Lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris)
Lowland tapirs, also known as Brazilian tapirs or South American tapirs, are often spotted at Kabalebo. They are seen near river-edges or on hiking trails. With their huge appearance, weighing at least 500 pounds (!!), long nose and mohawk like - hairdo, they almost look like a pre-historic creature ... to me.
With the help of Trap Cams I was able to observe a young joining his mother until they went their separate ways.
Lowland tapirs feed on grass, twigs, young leaves, fruit and plums. As an experiment I gathered the plums from our sweet mope tree (As it is a seasonal tree, it is only possible between January and March every year) As they are large in size I had to gather at least 30 pounds (??) a day. I put all the plums on one big pile right in front of the Trap Cam.
As shown in footages they appear at different times eating the plums, both day and night. Because the young stayed with his mother for more then a year, he got used to it and felt so comfortable and safe that he started a habit: sitting comfortably in front of the heap while eating. (I'll post some videos about this habit soon on this site)
You would think that his new habit would make him vulnerable for predators, but that isn't so. They smell their predators and avoid those trails. That is what I saw on one footage. One day I see a relaxed sitting tapir eating plums. The next day no tapir in sight, but a jaguar seen wandering in front of the Trap Cam.
Now the young tapir is all grown-up, he walks alone on the same path he used to walk with his mum.
Sometimes black-caracaras or giant cowbirds join the 'lonely' tapir. As its body is full of tics they feast on these creatures. For both the tapir and the birds it is a win-win situation. For an on-looker, like myself, it is quite a show to watch.
Seeing a Lowland tapir is a privilege for me, as they are listed on the Endangered Species List due to habitat loss, slow reproduction and being hunted by humans. I am fortunate to see these beautiful creatures, whether it is 'live' or on Trap Cams.
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