Raquel went seed collecting recently with Barata and Mauricio as we are always on the lookout for seeds to plant in the REGUA nursery.
January is a good month to collect seeds and many species were laying on the forest floor. High on the Orange trail, Barata suddenly came across a small den and upon closer inspection found the extraordinary remains of a Collared Peccary, Tayassu tajuco.
These are mainly fruit eaters and have been regularly caught on camera traps in large groups foraging for food amongst the vegetation.
It is quite a common species found across the Americas but the sight of the huge skull with its large canines is still most impressive. Barata had never seen one before and Raquel has a good example to captivate our visitors’ attention.
The expected release of the first two South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) also known as Brazilian or Lowland Tapirs, has been delayed slightly but is still expected to occur before the end of the year.
The release compound where the animals will be held for a month to become acclimatised before release has been completed, and the reintroduction team are busy talking to all the local landowners and schools to ensure that everyone is aware of the project and is supportive.
In total it is planned to release about 50 animals over the next five years or so, and at least the first few will have collars fitted which will incorporate both satellite transmitters and radio tags so that their movements and behaviour can be monitored. Tapirs are usually solitary animals and will range widely in the forest, but in hot weather they need to find ponds or rivers in which they can cool down. The major concern is that they may start visiting local farmers’ crops and cause damage, which is why so much effort is being taken to inform locals of the releases and of the legal methods that can be used to prevent that damage.
In addition to the collars, the team will be setting up a series of camera traps to monitor the released animals, and trials have already produced some wonderful photos of other mammals that inhabit the forest. This wonderful photo of Puma was taken on the 4×4 trail.
Whilst on holiday in the southern Amazon area, I came across a muddy path with these Tapir tracks. The animals move through the forest looking for muddy pools and water holes, making tunnel-like paths. They feed on the lush growth promoted by these wet areas.
As they move around their territory, they defecate, depositing seeds they have consumed. This promotes future plant growth and increased diversity of plant species throughout the forest.
Its exciting to think that we will have these tracks around REGUA in the not too distant future with our re-introduction project.
For more information about the Tapir re-introduction project see our Mammal page.
An extremely exciting piece of news! After much planning, REGUA is moving forward with our Tapir Reintroduction Programme.
The South American TapirTapirus terrestrial, also known as Lowland Tapir or Brazilian Tapir, is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, but would have been widespread in the Atlantic Forest of the state of Rio de Janeiro in south-east Brazil, before hunting and habitat destruction brought it to extinction. REGUA, with it’s forests protected from hunting, restored wetlands, and Education Programme, is an ideal site for this ground breaking project.
The REGUA Tapir Reintroduction Programme is led by Rio de Janeiro University Professor Fernando Fernandez, who has previously successfully released Red-rumped AgoutiDasyprocta leporina and Brown Howler Monkey Alouatta guariba in Rio de Janerio’s Tijuca Forest National Park, and is being carried out in partnership with Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janiero (UFRJ), Universidade Federal Rural de Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Universidade estaudual do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj) and the Three Peaks State Park (Parque Estadual dos Três Picos).
Local builder Ruy and the team of REGUA rangers are planning to build the tapir pen next month. Although these animals are notoriously obstinate, the one hectare pen will be made out of reinforced and treated eucalyptus posts constructed in the forest on the far side of the wetlands.
A pair of tapirs will come from a breeder in the city of Araxá, about 1,000 km away from REGUA. After a period of quarantine they will be released with a GPS transmitter attached to register their tracks. We are ready to go into the field and mark the area.
South American Tapir is the largest land mammal in South America and known as the “overalls of the forest” for scattering seeds of various species of plants, contributing to the maintenance of biodiversity. Joanna, the project’s Education Officer, will be informing the local schools and communities of the importance of this species’ reintroduction to the environment.
This is the first time tapirs will be released and it is very exciting for us to be part of the project.