TAPIRS ARE RETURNING TO RIO DE JANEIRO FORESTS AFTER 100 YEARS OF EXTINCTION
Professors Fernando Fernandez, Alexandra Pires, Maron Galliez and Marcelo Rheingantz conceived REFAUNA project with the purpose of reintroducing and managing fauna species which are locally extinct or are suffering some level of threat within their original distribution. Introducing animals into the wild help reestablish the interaction animal-plant and ecological processes, contributing for the development of a healthy and balanced ecosystem. The fundamental ecological processes of ecosystems are the water cycle, biogeochemical (or nutrient) cycling, energy flow and community dynamics which support the long-term persistence of biodiversity. Fragmentation and habitat loss have negatively impacted medium and larger forest mammal populations. In large forest fragments, overhunting has driven several mammal species to both significant population reduction and species extinction. This human interference in forest dynamics has impacted species diversity and abundance resulting in what is known as “defaunation’ in the Anthropocene .
REFAUNA Tapir reintroduction programme at REGUA started in 2017 and is supported and implemented by Rio de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro Federal Rural University (UFRRJ) and Rio de Janeiro Federal Institute (IFRJ). To date, 11 tapirs (females and males) have been reintroduced within REGUA´s land.
In August 2020 we had the female tapir Jasmin arriving at REGUA. She came from Guarulhos zoo, in São Paulo, and spent about 3 months on the release pen to get familiarized with the new environment. There were feeding points set up by one of our staff members, Sidnei, who came every day to feed Jasmin. Finally, the release day arrived! It was meant to happen the previous day; however, Jasmin was a bit moody and nervous, so she threw herself into the puddle and didn’t leave the release pen area. Only today we managed to open the gate allowing Jasmin to leave the release pen without hesitation. These next days are very important to keep track of Jasmin. She is being monitored by a tracking collar and she will probably be looking for a place to settle.