Nai in the indigenous Bribri language, Danta in Latin America and Tapir in the western world. The endangered Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) with an estimate of 6000 individuals left, are of incredible value for the ecosystem. And thus more recently an urge for preserving the species has risen. It is known that there is a positive relationship between Baird’s Tapirs occurrence and forest cover and negative relationships with roads and elevation. Which is not surprising,  as  deforestation  and  hunting  are  widely  recognized  as  the  two  largest  threats  to  the  species. Which illustrates the value of protecting continuous gradients of forest and other additional conservation efforts.

The Tapir is extremely important for growth and regenerating of forest. Also called gardeners of the forest, some seeds only germinate of they pass through the Tapir. Studies have shown that taking out large ungulates, especially Tapirs can significantly change the composition of the forest. As can be seen on the photo, the Tapir dung has been marked out to see what is growing out of it.

Biological corridors are an essential part of the protection of animals. To ensure connectivity between fragmented populations allowing genetic exchange for sustaining healthy populations. One of such conservation areas it the Biological Corridor Tenorio Miravalles (BCTM) which is located in the Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area and has an area of 12,501.73 hectares and comprises part of the cantons of Upala, Bagaces y Cañas.. The importance of the protected area becomes clear by the natural richness of the area.

The BCTM is occupied by fincas and granjas (farms and pastures for cattle). Of course this occupation of land comes with (necessary) fences and boundaries, also just to keep the cattle in. Forcing wildlife in even smaller patches of forest and pathways in the biological corridor. Even though the largest part of BCTM is covered with forest (52%), the remaining area is covered with pastures (19,77%), agroforestry with little forest and agroforestry with lots or forest area (10,85% and 6,45% respectively), but still very little urban development (1.16%).

Passing silently through the night, the classic footprint of the Tapir can be seen the next morning, if you get there before the rain though…

G46Q0088.jpg

The future for conservation are kids of course, not to say that talking to adults doesn't make any sense, but education plays an enormous part in generating interest in the natural world. In Bijagua the communities organized the third Danta Festival (tapirs) with all kinds of activities, concerning raising awareness for the endangered Bairds Tapir. Nai Conservation works with the communities and the national parks in the Biological Corridor Tenorio Miravalles, to enhance the productivity of the corridor and further existance of the "gardeners of the forest", the Tapirus Bairdii. More research in the future will help connecting fragmented, but vital patches of forest.

G46Q0979.jpg

Pristine cloud forest in Brauilo Carrillo National Park, Costa Rica. Beautiful Tapir habitat.

Silently walking through the cloudforest at night, higher in the mountains at Braulio Carrillo, where it seems to be always raining in my experience, (see drips on lens) the Tapirs seem to be a little more fluffy. I don’t know if it is scientifically proven, but they are going to need it up there!