Record Details

Naranjo, E. J.;Bodmer, R. E.
Population ecology and conservation of Baird's Tapir in the Lacandon Forest, Mexico
Tapir Conservation
Journal Article
Tapir Bibliography
Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) has an important role in the dynamics of tropical forests through herbivory, seed dispersal, and seed predation. This mammal has also been a food source for rural inhabitants of Mesoamerica. Tapirs are currently endangered due to habitat loss and over-hunting. The objectives of this study were: (1) to evaluate the status of the tapir population in Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (MABR) and its surroundings in the Lacandon Forest of Chiapas, Mexico; and (2) to propose a strategy for the conservation and management of tapirs in collaboration with residents of the study area. We walked 1908 km of line transects in the study area to count tapirs and their tracks. We interviewed 232 local hunters and had meetings with local communities to discuss our results. We observed 19 individuals and 438 tapir tracks between May 1998 and April 2001. Most tapir records (79.3%) were obtained in slightly hunted sites within MABR and only 0.4% were found outside this protected area. We estimated an overall encounter rate of 0.9 tapirs/100 km and a density of 0.22 ind/km2. Average density estimated in slightly hunted areas (0.24 ind/km2) was considerably higher than density of persistently hunted areas (0.05 ind/km2). We estimated a two-month home range of 0.67 km2 for a radiocollared female tapir. The sex ratio based on hunting records at persistently hunted sites did not differ from the expected 1:1. From direct sightings, we estimated that the tapir population was composed of 78.9% adults (n=15), 15.8% juveniles (n=3), and 5.3% young (n=1). Using the production and the harvest models, we detected unsustainable able hunting of tapirs at both regional and local levels in the study area. Through the stock-recruitment model, we estimated the status of the hunted tapir population at 21% of K. In order to promote tapir conservation in the study area, we recommend: (1) to protect remaining habitat within and outside existing reserves; (2) to encourage self-regulation of subsistence hunting by local communities; (3) to look for alternative sources of income for local people (e.g. tourism, and agro-forestry projects); (4) to establish environmental education and wildlife research programmes around MABR.