BAIRD'S TAPIR (Tapirus bairdii)
This species is listed as Endangered due to an ongoing and inferred future decline estimated from loss of habitat, fragmentation and hunting pressure. Population declines are estimated to be greater than 50% in the past 3 generation (33 years) and suspected to be greater than 50% decline in the next 3 generations (33 years). In addition there is evidence to suggest that infectious diseases may contribute to the decline of the species in the future as cases are now being found in the northern portion of the range where cattle are present. The current overall population estimate for this species is < 5,000 mature individuals. Range-wide habitat change is severely impacting and fragmenting populations of T. bairdii, which do not generally occupy human dominated or modified habitat types and suffers from persecution near human settlements. It is estimated that around 70% of Central American forest areas have been lost through deforestation and alteration over the last 40 years (Primack et al. 1997) – thus we infer that at least 50% of the habitat has been lost on the past 3 generations. The construction of a road through the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala and in other regions is likely to become a major problem for tapirs in that area. There do appear to be several strongholds for populations (i.e. La Amistad), however, increasing threats from hunting and the lack on enforcement in these areas will cause continuing declines and risk severe fragmentation of remaining mature individuals.
Tapirs are piglike animals with long legs, an extended trunk and relatively streamlined bodies. Baird's tapir — the largest of the tapirs — has short, dark bristly hair with a light-colored chin and throat. It can be found in the forests of Central and South America, feeding on plant parts near freshwater sources. Baird's tapir are endangered throughout their range due to hunting and habitat destruction.