Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative

Posted on Jun 7, 2011 in Articles

Ever since Olivia and Carter started OMG, they have been passionately looking for opportunities to help endangered species all over the world.  Recently we came across an organization in South America who has the same passion and desire to help save animals from extinction.  Carter and Olivia have been communicating with the folks at the Lowland Tapir Conservation Institute in São Paulo, Brazil.  Their work is extraordinary and we just wanted to take a moment and share with everyone the amazing work they do.  We hope you like their work and that you also learn something about the fascinating Tapir they work so hard to save.

The tapir is one of the first species in its habitat to be adversely affected by human disturbance. The new Lowland Tapir Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan developed during the Lowland Tapir Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) Workshop held in Brazil in 2007 identified habitat destruction and fragmentation, with resulting population isolation, and intensive hunting as the main factors behind the decline of lowland tapirpopulations throughout their geographic range.

In 1996, Patrícia Medici started a long-term research and conservation program on lowland tapirs in the Atlantic Forests of the Pontal do Paranapanema Region, São Paulo, Brazil. In order to advance scientific knowledge and promote the conservation of this widely spread but seriously imperiled large mammal, Patrícia has launched a country-wide Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative that will establish tapir research and conservation programs in other key biomes of Brazil. The first of these is a Tapir Research and Conservation Program in the Brazilian Pantanal, where no tapir research has ever been conducted. The next biomes where the initiative will be established in the near future are the Amazon and Cerrado. Tapir Programs in each biome will aim to benefit tapirs as well as a large number of other species and key habitats while having long-term positive impacts on the local communities.

Tapirs: Keystone Species for Conservation
Ecological research of keystone species generates information to guide habitat conservation initiatives, as well as to promote education and local community participation. This will then lead to landscape conservation efforts that will ultimately influence decision- and policy-making. The research and conservation of keystone species can help design the necessary steps to safeguard a biome and influence policy-making. Tapirs are such a keystone species.

Conservation Status of Lowland Tapirs
The four living species of tapirs occur in the tropics of Central America (Baird’s tapir, Tapirus bairdii), South America (lowland tapir, Tapirus terrestris, and mountain tapir, Tapirus pinchaque), and Southeast Asia (Malayan tapir, Tapirus indicus). The lowland tapir has the broadest range of the four living species extending from north-central Colombia and east of the Andes throughout most of tropical South America down to north eastern Argentina and Paraguay at elevations up to 2,000 masl. The species occurs in 11 different countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

At the international level, the lowland tapir is currently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Vulnerable to Extinction” in the categories A2cde+3cde (IUCN/SSC Red List 2008; IUCN/SSC Global Mammal Assessment 2008). Additionally, lowland tapirs are listed in CITES Appendix II (CITES 2005), and as Endangered on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service list. In Brazil, although the species is not included in the national list of species threatened with extinction (Lista de Espécies Ameaçadas de Extinção 2003), the lowland tapir is reported insix out of seven state lists. In the states of Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, the species is listed as “Critically Endangered” and in the Paraná, São Paulo, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro states it is included within the category “Endangered”.

The tapir is one of the first species in its habitat to be adversely affected by human disturbance. The new Lowland Tapir Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan developed during the Lowland Tapir Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) Workshop held in Brazil in 2007 identified habitat destruction and fragmentation, with resulting population isolation, and intensive hunting as the main factors behind the decline of lowland tapir populations throughout their geographic range.

Project History
In 1996, Patrícia Medici started a long-term research and conservation program on lowland tapirs in the Atlantic Forests of the Pontal do Paranapanema Region, São Paulo, Brazil. This program has included studies in ecology, population demography, epidemiology, genetics, habitat use and effects of habitat fragmentation, as well as promotion of community involvement, environmental education and habitat restoration efforts. One of the main achievements of the Atlantic Forest Tapir Program has been providing scientific information to restore critical tapir habitat (corridors and stepping-stones) identified through telemetry studies. Results of the project are currently being used to design a Regional Action Plan for Tapir Research and Conservation in the Atlantic Forest biome which will be implemented throughout the next years.

The Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative
The Atlantic Forest Tapir Program has demonstrated that tapirs are a keystone species that play a critical role in

Stuck in the mud ;-)

shaping and maintaining biological diversity and forest structure, and are essential for key ecological processes such as seed dispersal and predation. In order to advance scientific knowledge and promote the conservation of this widely spread but seriously imperiled large mammal, Patrícia has now launched a country-wide Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative that will establish tapir research and conservation programs in other key biomes of Brazil. The first of these is a new Tapir Research and Conservation Program in the Brazilian, where no tapir research has ever been conducted. The Pantanal is increasingly threatened. Deforestation is now widespread throughout the region, threatening tapirs and other wildlife with local extinction.

Here is a great video from Jack Hanna highlighting the great work Patrícia and her team does to raise awareness about these endangered species;

Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild 2011 – Tapir Conservation Segment

FIELD UPDATE – Pantanal Tapir Program – May 2011

We just came back from a wonderful field expedition to Baía das Pedras, one of our study areas in the Pantanal, and here I am to give you an update of our activities! Our expedition was extremely successful! The main missions for this expedition were to capture tapirs in order to install radio-collars and collect biological samples (we now have 10 wooden box traps at Baía das Pedras, five of them built in 2009 and five new traps built in December 2010), collect fecal samples for genetics and diet studies, camera-trapping, and continuation of the tapir latrine experiment we established last year.  We hope you will check back in on us frequently and that you too find out work interesting.  We look forward to sharing more with you via our friends at OMG ;-)

Team Members

Patrícia Medici

Ph.D. in Biodiversity Management, DICE, University of Kent, UK

Coordinator, Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative

IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research)

Chair, IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG)

Facilitator, IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) – Brasil Network

Patrícia Medici is a Brazilian conservation biologist whose main professional interests are tapir conservation, tropical forest conservation, metapopulation management, landscape ecology, and community-based conservation. Patrícia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry Sciences from the São Paulo University (USP – Universidade de São Paulo), a Masters Degree in Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), Brazil, and a Ph.D. Degree in Biodiversity Management from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, United Kingdom. For the past 19 years, Patrícia has been working for a Brazilian non-governmental organization called IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research) of which she was one of the founding members together with Cláudio and Suzana Padua. Since 1996, Patrícia coordinates the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil and dedicates her life to tapir conservation in Brazil. Since 2000, Patrícia has been the Chairperson of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG), a network of over 150 tapir conservationists from 27 different countries worldwide. Lastly, Patrícia has been a facilitator of the Brazilian Network of the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) for the past seven years. Patrícia has been honored with three very prestigious conservation awards: Harry Messel Conservation Leadership Award from the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2004, Golden Ark Award from the Golden Ark Foundation in the Netherlands in 2008, and Whitley Award from the Whitley Fund for Nature in the United Kingdom also in 2008. More recently, Patrícia received the 2011 Research Prize from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.

Paulo Rogerio Mangini

D.V.M. M.Sc. in Wildlife Medicine
Ph.D. Student, Universidade Federal do Estado do Paraná, Brazil

Veterinarian, Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative
IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research)

Member, IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG)
Member, IUCN/SSC Peccary Specialist Group (PSG)
Member, IUCN/SSC Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG)

E-mail: pmangini@uol.com.br; pmangini@ipe.org.br

Paulo Rogerio Mangini is a Brazilian veterinarian with extensive experience on wildlife medicine including several species such as peccaries and tapirs. Paulo has a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Sciences from the Federal University of Paraná State (UFPR – Universidade Federal do Paraná), Brazil, and a Masters Degree in Wildlife Medicine also from the Federal University of Paraná State. Since 1998, Paulo has been working as a Research Associate with IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research), as the coordinator of the veterinarian component of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative. Paulo is a member of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG), IUCN/SSC Peccary Specialist Group (PSG), and IUCN/SSC Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG).

José Maria de Aragão

Field Technician
Teodoro Sampaio, São Paulo, Brazil

José Maria de Aragão is Brazilian and has almost 20 years of experience working as field assistant for several research and conservation projects leaded by IPÊ, including black-lion-tamarins, black-faced-lion-tamarins, tapirs, jaguars, small mammals, peccaries, and birds among others. Since 1996, José Maria has been Patrícia Medici´s right and left hand, helping her carry out the activities of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in the Atlantic Forest and Pantanal biomes.

AWARDS RECEIVED BY PATRÍCIA MEDICI, Coordinator, Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative

Harry Messel Conservation Leadership Award 2004, IUCN/SSC

Golden Ark Award 2008, Golden Ark Foundation, Netherlands

Whitley Award 2008, Whitley Fund for Nature, United Kingdom

DICE Research Prize 2011, University of Kent, United Kingdom

If your interested in learning more about this amazing group or if you too would like to help fund their various programs, please contact Patrícia directly at:

Patrícia MediciPh.D. Coordinator, Lowland Tapir Conservation InitiativeIPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research)Mailing Address: Rua Licuala, 622, Residencial Damha 1, CEP: 79046-150, Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, BRAZIL

Phone & FAX: +55-67-3322-0240 │ Cell Phone: +55-67-9965-6960

E-mail: epmedici@uol.com.br; medici@ipe.org.br

Web: www.ipe.org.brwww.tapirconservation.org.brwww.tapirs.org

Best regards from the entire OMG Team and thank you for caring ;-)