The (danta) or tapir (tapirus bairdii) is the largest terrestrial mammal inhabiting the neotropic. In Costa Rica, it lives in both low-lying areas (Guanacaste, Corcovado National Park) and highlands, such as Cerro de la Muerte.
Their behavior varies according to the place they inhabit; for example, those who live in Corcovado are quite calm and are accustomed to the constant visits of tourists, while the population present in Cerro de la Muerte behaves discreetly and timidly.
The tapir is not the favorite food of any particular predator because of its large size. It is popularly called the “forest gardener” because of its fundamental role in the ecosystem, as it disperses seeds and opens clearings in the forest. The tapir feeds on understory, one of the main obstacles to germination, so that its presence facilitates the growth of seedlings in forested areas.
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“The activities carried out by the dantas are related to the mitigation of climate change,” said biologist Esteban Brenes Mora, a specialist in the subject. Studies revealed by the journal Science in 2015 show that there is less carbon sequestration in forests where large herbivores are missing.
Regrettably, these important herbivores have disappeared, to the point of being the tapir a species considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Among its causes of mortality in Costa Rica highlights hunting, loss of habitat and road abuses. The three threats are caused by the human being.
There are still reports of the hunting of dantas, especially for food. Its flesh is not particularly popular, but is considered helpful because of the large size of the animal.
The gestation period is 13 months; when they are born until 10 months, prominent spots and white spots on the sides, which gives a protective clothing that is confused with vexation; even so; children and adults are prey to the jaguar and other felines.
It wanders during the nights sometimes great distances. It is possible to find it in family groups, because adults recognize and tolerate their descendants, even after separating. They are also active in the day, although their vision is very poor, but their hearing and smell are excellent.
It is considered a species in danger of extinction, since its space has been reduced every day for its survival hence the help of man is indispensable.