TAPIRS ARE RETURNING TO RIO DE JANEIRO FORESTS AFTER 100 YEARS OF EXTINCTION
Professors Fernando Fernandez, Alexandra Pires, MaronGalliezand Marcelo Rheingantzconceived REFAUNA projectwiththepurposeof 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 helpreestablish theinteractionanimal-plantandecological processes, contributing forthedevelopmentof a healthyandbalancedecosystem. 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.Fragmentationand habitat losshavenegatively impactedmediumandlargerforestmammalpopulations. In largeforestfragments, overhuntinghasdrivenseveral mammalspeciestobothsignificantpopulationreductionand speciesextinction. Thishumaninterference in forest dynamics hasimpactedspeciesdiversityandabundanceresulting in what isknown as “defaunation’ in theAnthropocene .
REFAUNA Tapir reintroductionprogrammeat REGUA started in 2017 andis 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 (femalesand males) havebeenreintroducedwithinREGUA´sland.
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.
We have had a very sad news recently, the tapir Eva was hit on a dirt road by a motorcyclist, and days later was found dead. Luckily the motorcyclist was not seriously injured. Eva’s eight-month-year-old male offspring has not been hit. We’re setting up reinforced feeding points where Eva often used to visit with her baby, so we’re going to monitor him very closely.
Accidents involving wild animals are a major problem worldwide, it is estimated that 475 million wild animals are run over each year on Brazilian roads. In the case of large animals such as tapirs, these accidents can cause serious trouble. Respecting speed limits and driving carefully on roads near natural areas are ways to avoid these types of accident. Refauna together with Guapiacu III Petrobras funded project and REGUA are providing, with the support of the municipality of Cachoeiras de Macacu, speed reducers and signs for the road near REGUA, to reduce the chance of more accidents.
Eva was the first female tapir to be reintroduced at REGUA. She lived in the wild for almost three years and left two cubs. When she arrived at REGUA, she was very shy and didn’t come too close to people, but after being released, in few months, she didn’t approach anyone any longer, behaving like a wild tapir. She established her territory between REGUA and other rural properties and could be spotted walking with the other reintroduced tapir Valente, the baby tapir’s father. She fully adapted to the wild, as if she had never lived in captivity. We have learnt a lot from the tapir Eva and we are very saddened with her death. It comforts us to know that she had the chance to live a happy life in the wild and that Eva’s reintroduction helped us to gain experience for the reintroduction of other tapirs into the wild. Let’s hope her baby tapir lives a long life in REGUA’s territory.
REGUA is very pleased to announce that Petrobras Socio-Environmental renewed the funding of the GGV or now the Guapiaçu III programme. The project continues with its objectives in restoration and education. Aside strengthening the Atlantic Forest ecosystem at REGUA through further tree planting, and continuing in supporting education, a new element will be the support for the current tapir reintroduction programme.
Forest restoration: A mixture of tree planting and natural regeneration on 100 hectares will occur in the Guapiaçu watershed, as well as monitoring of Petrobras funded 260 hectares with the aim to measure carbon sequestration. Native trees are planted in a mixture of pioneer, early secondary and climax species. In addition this project will identify and select a further 190 hectares within the watershed as part of a restoration data bank.
Environmental education: Primary and Secondary Schools will continue to visit REGUA on the “Grande Vida trail” which runs from the start of the Yellow Trail to the wooden bridge. The first 400 metres of the trail have been adapted to host physically handicapped visitors. Self-explanatory posters along the trail describe some forest processes and some of the conservation work carried out at REGUA. The project team will visit kindergartens in both Cachoeiras de Macacu and Itaborai municipalities.
GGV will continue with the water quality monitoring programme involving 80 Secondary students trained by the team to monitor Guapiaçu, Macacu and Caceribu rivers water quality at determined sampling sites along each river (both upstream and downstream urban areas) to produce data on the rivers’s physical-chemical characteristics. The team will also be studying biological indicators of water quality.
Tapir reintroduction support programme: Guapiaçú III Petrobras Socio-Environmental project will sponsor the transport, the telemetry equipment, promotion and community outreach programme in the area. A futher six tapirs will be released at REGUA as from June 2020.
We bring you a follow up of the news of the birth of Rio de Janeiro’s first wild Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris birth for over a century, at REGUA.
The story kicks off in 2016 when Professor Fernando Fernandez of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) arrived at REGUA with a plan of releasing 10 pairs of Lowland (or Brazilian) Tapirs at REGUA over 3-4 years, a species that has been extinct for over 100 years in Rio de Janeiro state, (a physical territory equivalent to the country of Costa Rica). The forests that Roger Wilson of the World Land Trust had exhorted us to plant in 2005, were at a stage that they represented the perfect gateway to the forested mountains of the Três Picos State Park, the third largest remaining fragment of Atlantic Forest in the world. After much time convincing the Park authorities that this was a great idea to improve forest quality through seed dispersal, the go ahead was granted.
REGUA built two huge fenced pens in the forest by the wetlands to receive three Lowland Tapirs raised in a captive breeding centre in Minas Gerais. Accompanying Eva was her adolescent calf, Flokinho, and partner Adão, names chosen by the local community in late 2017. Sadly Adão succumbed to pneumonia, but soon afterwards the Projeto Refauna team brought another three, Jupiter, Valente and Flora, from another breeding centre in Paraná. Jupiter is a fitting name, being the God of sky and thunder in Roman mythology, as Jupiter spoon chased off Flora’s calf Flokinho, who is now living in the lower part of the Guapiaçu valley. Time passed as the three weaned off their supplementary diet of fruit and lo and behold 13 months later we have our very first tapir calf!
The Projeto Refauna team managed the first glimpses through a camera trap. Then REGUA bird guide, Adilei Carvalho da Cunha, installed two camera traps, but found the card in one was faulty and the other trap captured no video of any tapir (though a surprising amount of recordings of agouti paca, common marmoset, common opossums and the smaller gray four eyed opossum). Adilei replaced the dud card and later successfully returned with these two videos. Both show a very healthy individual (still without a name) which we expect to be at least three months of age. Mum is living by some fields and plantations, not in deep forest, and has been seen walking a trail that goes to the river many times of the day.
This is not only the very first Lowland Tapir born at the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve, but also the first born out of captivity in Rio de Janeiro state for over a hundred years. We have to thank Projeto Refauna, the tapir captive breeders and of course the Três Picos State Park authorities, who will certainly be seeing the tapirs roaming before long in this immense green area.
Yet another year has passed and Raquel and I, on behalf of everyone at the REGUA project, would like to share this update that is just full to the brim of encouraging news.
The mission statement of the project is the conservation of the Guapiaçu watershed achieved through the implementation of four principle programmes; protection; restoration; education and research.
Land Purchase is a visceral part of REGUA’s protection programme and in 2019 REGUA purchased or (at the time of writing) is in the process of finalising the purchase of various parcels of land to integrate into the Reserve of 338.5 hectares/846.25 acres. This would not be possible without the continued generosity of our supporters.
REGUA employs 10 rangers from the local community and their work consists of principally patrolling the forests along 45km of the reserve’s trail network. The aim of the patrolling is to show REGUA presence and discourage hunting. Coming from the local community the rangers are able to share news and discuss any concerns which enables them to be part of the decisions made and work done here. Sponsorship supports some of our rangers enabling us to increase our team as land purchase increases the size of the reserve.
REGUA continues to reforest as part of its programme in habitat restoration. The project has now planted over 520,000 trees since 2005. Tree planting is not an easy task, but with support from many individuals, and grants from companies and supportive conservation organisations, REGUA has planted tough areas and results are heart-warming. Increasing the overall forest cover, reducing edge effect, and creating and strengthening forest corridors, which offer greater areas for biodiversity, are vital.
Our education programme thrives with the out-reach programme to local schools meeting over 2,270 children. We have 19 enthusiastic young people in our young ranger programme and have met just under 200 school teachers and received 80 tutors on our teacher courses. All of which continues to spread our message of conservation and the value of the wonderful landscape and biodiversity in to the local communities.
Over 2,000 individuals have participated in training courses and research work at REGUA and our reputation with major universities continues to grow.
The results have led to protocols in tree monitoring established by the RJ Government; on-going experimental plots; long term monitoring plots to measure tree growth; carbon sequestration studies; seed exchange and hosting technical workshops at REGUA as well invitation to participate in seminars and congresses.
Our protection and increased continuous forest, made REGUA a suitable project to launch the tapir reintroduction programme, a fact which we feel is an clear endorsement of the work we are doing. The reintroduction project is run by the Rio de Janeiro University. REGUA currently has nine tapirs roaming in the nearby local forests. This attracts public attention and reflects the value of a safe nature reserve. Sadly things are not always straightforward and two casualties showed that bats, anaemia and infections are to be reckoned with.
Tourism at REGUA has continued to increase as a result of its reputation spread by word of mouth, internet and social media promotion, report writing and reviews. The Lodge offers comfortable accommodation, and guiding helps to make for a pleasurable and productive time. The bird life continues to attract visitors and groups from around the globe, but similarly dragonfly, butterfly and amphibian groups are visiting. Rio is an international hub and makes the REGUA an easy place to visit being just under two hours from the airport with a remarkably preserved habitat.
Our plans for the future are clear, we have to keep developing and promoting our work independently. REGUA wishes to expand and consolidate through land purchase and complementary programmes. Tourism continues to be an essential component of REGUA’s fund-raising.
The conservation principles and ethos has attracted political interest and with the aim of securing water resources, the Government has declared the Guapiaçu watershed as strategically important for conservation.
Brazil continues to be a key area for global conservation, but it’s not an easy country to work in. Located in a global “hotspot”, the Atlantic rainforest biome, located in an “Important Bird Area” (IBA) as defined by Birdlife International, REGUA is an “Outpost of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve”.
Perhaps REGUA is not pristine habitat nor is it the home to some of the more charismatic species instantly recognised by the general public, but our main contribution is that we are repairing and organising damaged ecosystems. REGUA is showing that this different approach, will one day be vital for repairing tropical forests around the globe.
Three RPPNs areas have been constituted and two more are waiting to be approved, taking us up to second position in the State list of protected private areas. Our conservation efforts are being recognised and they are a source of inspiration to people visiting anxious to see what the fuss is all about!
This year REGUA was able to put more land into protection, plant more trees, publish more science and receive more visitors. As a result we are influencing public politics as to the regional importance of this Guapiaçu watershed and encouraging others to follow us.
We could not be prouder of our efforts. We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Xmas and a wonderful New year.
Here’s to a great year ahead – and hoping for more great sightings like the King Vulture photographed by Marco Wood-Bonelli in September 2019!
It’s amazing how things can change in a year. It’s just over a year since I was last at REGUA, and so much has happened.
Most noticeable to the lodge visitor is the tapir release project where five Lowland or Brazilian Tapir (TapirusTerrestris) have been released at the nearby wetlands, they often make the short trip up to the lodge garden. It is surreal to see guests at night photographing moths at the moth wall, with a rather large mammal wandering past on its evening patrol, both seemingly unaware of the other.
The Tapir have managed to get food off the garden feeding stations so a suspended higher-level table has now been made. The Common Marmoset (Callithrixjacchus) were a little perplexed initially but soon mastered the art of a trapeze-style dash across the wires. Some continue the more traditional approach – head first down a nearby tree.
The lodge orchid garden continues to develop, and with ferns and bromeliads amongst the rocks it makes a breeding area for house wren and feeding area for hummingbirds, the lantana and milkweed are doing well, again both favourites with the hummingbirds.
Other changes may not directly affect our lodge guests but they are making a huge difference to local visitors, including school visits, with a new car park by the conservation centre – hopefully no more buses getting stuck in the mud! A new accessible trail has been created to Amanda’s hide, bringing opportunities where previously it would have been impossible for some people to enjoy the delights of the wetlands.
On the project itself, we reached the milestone figure of 500,000 trees planted and continue to plant – over 69,000 trees were planted in the 2017/18 planting season alone, thanks to the generous donations from many of our supporters.
Wouldn’t one million trees planted be a great figure to reach in the future!
With more key land areas coming under REGUA’s care, increased wildlife corridors are being protected and created in the Guapiaçu catchment area. This will extend the range for many species of wildlife and enable them to strengthen in population, increase genetic diversity and increase the overall biodiversity of the valley.
Our Rangers continue to patrol the forest, adding security and monitoring the wildlife, whilst there has been a huge reduction in hunting in the area since the project began, we cannot stop our vigilance even though there is very little evidence of hunting seen or heard now.
If you would like to support REGUA’s work, full details on how to make a donation are available from our “donate” page here.
If you would like to volunteer, please see our link here for full details.
Following the arrival of three Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA last January, a further two males and a female named Jupiter, Valente and Flora arrived at REGUA in Guapiaçu as part of the continued Tapir reintroduction programme at REGUA on Sunday June 10th. Sadly, we sustained the loss of the large adult male from pneumonia in March so these three new individuals were a most welcome addition to the remaining population, a mother and adolescent tapir who are very well.
This reintroduction project has been carried out in partnership with Professor Fernando Fernandez, Maron Galliez and Joanna of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and approved by the Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Department (INEA) as well ICMBio.
The tapirs arrived after a tiring 24 hour trip of over 1,000 km from the Klabin conservation project in Northern Paraná State. They were transported in their travelling cases but had behaved admirably and arrived quite calm.
Following much local interest, the cases were promptly taken to be unloaded and released in their two and a half acre quarantine pen created especially for them within a secluded part of the wetlands. The quarantine area has a small pond in which to play and enjoy.
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 its kind in Rio de Janeiro state. REGUA starting reforesting lowlands in 2005 with the support of the World Land Trust and in 2005 created RPPN status which protects these restored forests for the future.
Lowland forest has virtually been eliminated in the State and REGUA’s protected area of 300 hectare Atlantic Rainforest adjacent to the enormous Três Picos State Park looked a very attractive area that could guarantee sufficient habitat for the species.
Being herbivores, tapirs consume all the fruit they can find on the forest floor. Feeding on fruit and walking large distances in the forests, they are regarded as the ‘gardeners of the forests’. The UFRJ team understood the need for reintroductions as a means to learn more about this species and their adaptability whilst REGUA wants the animals to spread tree species, increasing forest diversity and ensuring its resilience on the long term. Likewise, captive breeding programmes are only too delighted to support such well conducted release programmes as it provides the justification for breeding these lovely animals in captivity.
Until their supported release, and like their predecessors Eva and Flokinho the three tapirs will enjoy a diet of fruit and vegetables, up to 8 kilogram per animal per day together with dried maize, to keep them well nourished. Professors Maron and Joanna will keep their eye on them ensuring that the radio collars are not bothering them and they like their diet. After their release they will find fruit and maize nearby, but like most native animals they will probably prefer to roam and return to the solitary lives they enjoy.
Their release will provide valuable information as to their wanderings and habitat preferences, but there are already camera traps in the pen to check on their nocturnal behaviour and later more will be placed in the forest.
Exciting times ahead for our tapirs and for our biologists!!
The story of the reintroduction of Black-fronted Piping-Guan (Aburria jacutinga) at REGUA continues.
Alecsandra Tassoni, is SAVE Brasil’s Black-Fronted-Piping-Guan project coordinator and will be visiting REGUA to supervise the arrival of the birds.
The two females and one male come from a captive-breeding project in Paraná state. Their health tests were undertaken at UENF (Universidade Estadual Norte Fluminense) in Rio de Janeiro state prior to their transfer to São Paulo where they are currently being monitored.
Scanning and observation are the techniques used to study their behaviour which include assessing their food demands. There will also be predator training to ensure the birds react naturally to predators once they leave their release pen.
The Black-Fronted-Piping-Guan reintroduction project at REGUA is funded by ‘O Boticário’ cosmetic company which is a long- standing Birdlife International partner.
REGUA looks forward to the next exciting part of the story.
Photograph published with the kind permission of SAVE Brasil and O Boticário Foundation.
The Tapir re-introduction team comes to Regua on a weekly basis to check on the well-being of the Tapirs and to talk to community neighbours about this project.
The Young Rangers were thrilled to hear from Joana the Education Officer from the Tapir Reintroduction programme, that the Tapirs are becoming more independent from the food provided for them and that they are moving further away from the release-pen as each day goes by.
Prof. Carlos and the young rangers will be visiting the local villages of Guapiaçú, Santo Amaro, Areal, Matumbo and Estreito to inform the communities on the positive development of this pioneering project.
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 (Aburria 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.