Record Details

Pérez-Flores, Jonathan;Calmé, Sophie;Reyna-Hurtado, Rafael
Scoring Body Condition in Wild Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) Using Camera Traps and Opportunistic Photographic Material
Tropical Conservation Science
Journal Article
Body condition score (BCS) systems have been used in wild animals as a technique for evaluating the health status of species that are difficult to capture but can be observed in their habitat. In this study, our goal was to enable scoring the BC of wild Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) without the need for direct observation, using camera trap and opportunistic photographic records. First, we modified a BCS assessment that was created for other tapir species, using captive Baird’s tapirs. Second, we applied it to a set of photographs of wild Baird’s tapir that were obtained over six consecutive years in a protected area in southern Mexico. We compared morphometric measurements and muscle and fat deposited in several anatomical regions.We also evaluated changes in BC between seasons for individuals photographed on several occasions. We show that neck and thorax circumferences are significantly correlated with all BCSs associated with these anatomical regions, whereas abdominal circumference is correlated only with half of the BCS. BCS of captive tapirs that we evaluated averaged 24.935.61, which was higher than that of wild tapirs (22.633.68). No significant difference in BC was apparent between rainy and dry seasons in our study site; wild tapirs were able to maintain good BC throughout the year. Camera trap records and opportunistic photographs were a useful tool to track changes in BC over time.