The tapirs still haven’t been fully released into the wild but their pen surrounds a large inlet of water and in the heat of the day both adults, baptized Adam and Eve, enjoy staying in the water to savour the coolness.
Adam has a radio collar attached but Eve’s collar was removed to let a sore heal. Seeing two tapirs wallowing in the protected and natural habitat at REGUA is quite a sight!
We are hoping for a soft release by the end of February – more news to follow!
The introduction of the Lowland or Brazilian Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA is going very well. The two adults (previously referred to as Napoleon and Daphne) have been baptized ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ by the REGUA Young Rangers and the one year old calf (previously named Frank) has been given a new name, ‘flokinho’ or ‘Snowflake’ – probably because you see him very rarely here in the forest. He regularly wanders in and out of his release pen and ventures around the entire lowland area.
The researchers have been doing a great job and attached a radio collar to both adults and the programme is going according to schedule. For those who have never seen a tapir running in the forest, this is an opportunity not to be missed. They run faster than a champion Samoan rugby player with a similar frame and promptly disappear into the forest. There is a great pool in their release pen in which they can wallow and the adults love relaxing.
These tapirs are just terrific animals and although we are providing a fruit and vegetable supplement, they much prefer browsing the natural vegetation. They appear to enjoy nocturnal activities and we are set to release them at the end of February if all goes well.
Based on their and our learning, more will follow.
After five years of planning we are delighted to announce to arrival of three Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA, a male, female and calf.
This reintroduction project has been carried out in partnership with Professor Fernando Fernandez of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and his team and Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Department (INEA).
The tapirs arrived yesterday afternoon after a tiring trip of over 1,000 km from the State of Minas Gerais. Their travelling cases were unloaded and taken to a specially prepared pen created in a secluded landscape where the animals can become accustomed to their new environment.
For a while we will provide fruit and vegetables for them to eat – up to 8 kg per animal per day. During this stage strict guidelines will be followed to ensure they do not become habituated or reliant on the provision of food.
The Lowland Tapir has been extinct in the state of Rio de Janeiro for over 100 years and the arrival of these animals at REGUA represents the very first reintroduction of tapirs in Rio de Janeiro state.
Our forests have lost their largest land mammal and one responsible for spreading the seeds of many trees and ensuring the strength and health of a forest – often referred to as the ‘Gardener of the Forest’. With the return of the tapir, REGUA will have great help in the regeneration process of the forest. Here’s wishing our new tapir family a successful future!
REGUA was delighted to receive Pedro Develey, the CEO of Birdlife International Brazil partner “SAVE” (Sociedade das Aves do Brasil) at REGUA. His visit was partly to discuss the future reintroduction of the Black-fronted Piping-guans (Pipile jacutinga).
Pedro’s stay at REGUA was also an opportunity to show off our current tree planting area and the success of the wetland restoration. Pedro had a great time and returned to São Paulo with a decent bird list and was especially pleased to see the variety of avian species in REGUA’s two year old forest.
He left us happy and content with the news that the reintroduction project is still ongoing. It’s crucial that a project of this importance develops slowly and steadily and all the pieces are being placed firmly in position. Thanks Pedro!!
Ruy’s creativity never ceases to surprise us and yesterday he brought down the feeding stations that he personally built for the Black-fronted Piping-guan release pen.
These small constructions will be suspended inside and outside the aviary as part of a “soft-release” method.
The birds can eat their ration and after the period of quarantine the aviary door will be opened for them to wander into freedom and around the reserve.
If they feel like returning and eating their ration, the stations will be waiting for them, but generally after three days they make a run for it as the instinct for seeking their natural preference for fruits and insects kicks in.
As we progress the Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) re-introduction programme, it is vital that the local communities are aware of the project and understand the value of Tapirs to the diversity of the forest.
Nicholas and Raquel are working with the Team on this vital issue – considering the possibility of the Tapirs advancing into local fields and feasting on manioc, corn and guava!
Brazilian Tapirs have been extinct for the last 100 years in the state of Rio de Janeiro. They can reach 300 kilos and their diet is based on fruits, leaves and shoots, making them very important seed dispersers and soil fertilizers.
It is not only the adults that are involved in this education programme however. Professor Maron Galliez and Joana Macedo recently organized a session with the Young Rangers.
After the Team explained what Tapir are and the reason for their re-introduction, there was a lively audience participation session which the Young Rangers thoroughly enjoyed.
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.
One of the most important aspects of any reintroduction programme is the education of the local community. Part of the Black-fronted Piping-guan re-introduction project comprises a series of Teacher Training Courses for local schools.
Alecsandra Tassoni from SAVE Brasil (BirdLife International branch) recently held the first of a series of these courses at REGUA. The event was attended by 15 teachers from three neighbouring schools in Guapiaçu, Matumbo and Funchal.
The aim of these courses is to introduce this charismatic bird to local school teachers, and explain the background to the re-introduction, with details of its conservation status, its ecological role and the need to protect existing forests to guarantee the perpetuation of this and all species.
The teachers were keen to know abut the project and the importance of this bird to the biodiversity of the forest, and were delighted to have the educational material to support them back in the classroom.
The day was a great success and everyone learned much about the Black-fronted Piping-guan and its future release at REGUA.
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.