Black-backed tapir

One of the most amazing mammals on our planet is the black-backed tapir. Tapirs are large herbivores from the artiodactyl order. In their appearance they resemble a pig, however, they have a trunk like an elephant. There is a legend about tapirs that the creator created these animals from the remaining parts of the bodies of other animals, and this legend has good reasons.

The origin of the species and description

Photo: Black-backed Tapir

Photo: Black-backed tapir

Tapirus indicus (Black-backed tapir) belongs to the animal kingdom, phylum chordates, class mammals, order equids, family tapirs, genus tapirs, species black-backed tapir. Tapirs are amazingly ancient animals. The first ancestors of tapirs lived on our planet thirty million years ago, however, modern tapirs practically do not differ from their ancestors. It is known that before the Ice Age, tapirs lived in Europe, North America and China.

To date, only 3 species of tapirs remain:

  • Mexican tapir (this species lives in territories from southern Mexico to Ecuador);
  • Brazilian (inhabits territories from Paraguay to Colombia) ;
  • Mountain Tapir lives in Colombia and Ecuador. Mountain tapirs are covered with thick hair.

Tapirs are somewhat similar to a pig or a horse. The legs of a tapir are similar to those of a horse. On the feet, the hooves are three-toed on the hind legs, and four-toed on the front. And also on the legs there are calluses like a horse. Tapirs have a rather large body, a small head on which there is a movable trunk. These animals are born in the same color with which their ancestors used to live: light stripes run against a dark background and stretch from head to tail.

Black-backed tapir is distinguished by the presence of a large light spot on the coat on the back and sides. In 1919, Georges Cuvier, the famous paleontologist, made a statement that all large animals were discovered by science, however, a few years later he added to his work «Natural History» another amazing animal — tapir.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Black-backed tapir in nature

Photo: Black-backed tapir in nature

The black-backed tapir is the largest species among the tapir family. Body length from 1.9 to 2.5 meters. The height of the animal at the withers is from 0.8 to 1 meter. An adult individual weighs from 245 to 330 kg. However, there were individuals weighing half a ton. At the same time, females are larger than males. The tiled tapir can be distinguished from other species by a large white spot on the back, which also descends to the sides. The coat color of a tapir is dark brown or black.

The tips of the ears have a white border. At birth, the cubs have a striped color, and only by 7 months the color changes and a large white spot-saddle is formed on the coat. The coat of animals of this species is short. The skin is rough and thick. On the neck and head, the skin is especially dense, this protects the tapir from injury.

Video: Black-backed tapir

The tapir is a large animal with massive horse-like hooves. The gait is clumsy, but tapirs move quite quickly. The head is small in size, on the head there are small ears and a large flexible trunk. The trunk is formed by the upper lip and nose.

The eyes of the animal are small, oval in shape. Many individuals of this species have such a disease as clouding of the cornea, so most tapirs do not see well. However, this is offset by a very good sense of smell and touch. The tapir has a small tail. The legs of the animal are similar in structure to those of a horse, however, they are much shorter.

Where does the black-backed tapir live?

Photo: Black-backed tapir in Thailand

Photo: Black-backed tapir in Thailand

In the wild, tapirs live in Southeast Asia, and these amazing animals can also be found in the central and southern regions of Thailand, Malaysia, Miami, and also on the island of Sumatra. In small numbers, these animals can be found in tropical forests in southern Cambodia and Vietnam. Tapirs live in dense, moist forests.

They choose places where there is especially a lot of green vegetation and where you can hide from the eyes of predators. One of the important factors in choosing a habitat is the presence of a reservoir. Tapirs are excellent swimmers and spend most of their lives in the water, they do not tolerate heat and spend most of the day in the pond. When bathing, small fish also adjoin these animals, they clean the animal's hair from various parasites.

An interesting fact: Among the black-backed tapirs, individuals of a completely black color, the so-called melanists, are often found. In addition to color, they are no different from other representatives of this species. The life span of tapirs is about 30 years.

Animals try not to go out to plains and open places as they have too many enemies despite their large size. Tigers and lions, anacondas and many other predators dream of eating tapir meat. Therefore, tapirs lead a secretive lifestyle, they roam the forest mainly at night, at night their color becomes a kind of disguise, since in the dark a predator cannot distinguish the contours of the animal, seeing only a white spot, such a visual deception saves tapirs from predators.

Now you know where the black-backed tapir lives. Let's see what he eats.

What does the black-backed tapir eat?

Photo: Black-backed tapir from the Red Book

Photo: Black-backed tapir from the Red Book

Tapirs are herbivores.

The diet of tapirs consists of:

  • various leaves plants;
  • fruits and vegetables;
  • berries;
  • branches and shoots of shrubs;
  • mosses, fungi and lichens;
  • herbs and algae.

Most of all, tapirs love salt, it is often picked up in their body, tapirs can travel long distances in search of this delicacy. They also need to eat chalk and clay, these substances are an excellent source of useful trace elements. While tapirs are in the water, they pluck algae with their trunks, eat plankton, and pluck branches from flooded bushes. The tapir has an excellent tool for obtaining food – the trunk. With its trunk, the tapir plucks leaves and fruits from trees and puts them in its mouth.

Despite their outward clumsiness, tapirs are quite hardy animals and during a drought they can travel great distances in search of food. In some areas, these cute and calm animals can cause major damage. Tapirs can trample and eat leaves and branches on plantations where chocolate trees are grown, these animals are also partial to sugar cane, mangoes and melons, and can harm plantings of these plants. In captivity, tapirs are fed the same food as pigs. Tapirs are very fond of eating crackers and various sweets. They can eat oats, wheat, and other grain fruits and various vegetables.

Character and Lifestyle Traits

Photo: Black-backed tapir

Photo: Black-backed tapir

In the wild, tapirs are very secretive animals, they are nocturnal. In the daytime, these animals spend most of the day in the water. There they hide from predators and the hot sun. And also these animals are always not averse to taking mud baths, this saves them from the parasites living on their fur, and gives the animals great pleasure. Tapirs swim well, including under water, they can get their own food there. Sensing danger, a tapir can dive into the water and not appear on the surface for some time.

At night, tapirs roam the forest in search of food. These animals see very poorly, but poor eyesight is compensated by a good sense of smell and touch, in the dark they are guided by sounds and smells. Tapirs are very shy, having heard a rustle or feeling that an animal can hunt for it, it can run away quickly enough. In the daytime, they try not to leave the thickets or water, so as not to become a victim of a predator.

Tapirs lead a solitary lifestyle, with an exception only during the mating season, when the male meets the female for the birth and rearing of offspring. At other times, animals behave aggressively towards their relatives, do not let them into their territory, even during migration, tapirs migrate singly or in pairs of male and female. To communicate with each other, tapirs make sonorous sounds similar to a whistle. Seeing his relative next to him, a tapir will try in every possible way to drive him out of his territory.

An interesting fact: tapirs are mentally developed on the same level as a domestic pig. Despite the fact that in the wild, these animals behave aggressively, they very quickly get used to life in captivity, begin to obey people and understand them.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Black-backed tapir calf

Photo: Black-backed tapir calf

The mating season for tapirs falls at the end of spring, mostly at the end of April – May. But sometimes there are in June. In captivity, tapirs are ready to breed all year round. Before mating, tapirs have real mating games: animals make very loud whistling sounds, according to these sounds, females can find a male in the forest thickets, and a male can find a female. During mating, the animals spin around, bite each other, and make loud sounds at the same time.

The initiator of mating is the female. Pregnancy in a female is very long and lasts up to 410 days. Basically, only one cub is born in tapirs, very rarely twins are born. The female takes care of the cub, she feeds him and protects him from dangers.

After birth, the cub sits in a shelter for some time, but at the age of one week, the cub begins to walk with its mother. Small tapirs have a protective striped coloration that will change over time. For the first six months, the female feeds the cub with milk, over time, the cub switches to plant foods, starting with tender foliage, fruits and soft grass. Tapir cubs grow very quickly and by the age of six months, a young tapir becomes the size of an adult. Tapirs are ready for breeding at the age of 3-4 years.

Natural enemies of black-backed tapirs

Photo: Black-backed tapir in nature

Photo: Black-backed tapir in nature

These cute animals in the wild have a lot of enemies. The main enemies of tapirs include:

  • pumas;
  • jaguars and tigers;
  • crocodiles;
  • Anaconda snake;
  • caimans.

Tapirs hide from large predators in the water, as these animals do not like water. But another danger awaits tapirs in the water – these are crocodiles and anacondas. Crocodiles are fast and hunt well in the water, and it is difficult for a tapir to escape from these predators.

But the main enemy of tapirs was and remains a man. It is people who cut down the forests in which tapirs live. These poor animals have nowhere to live, because in open areas they immediately become the prey of predators, in addition, by cutting down forests, a person deprives these animals of the most important thing – food. And also in many areas, tapirs are destroyed by people in order to preserve the crop.

These animals are known to harm crops and plantations of fruit and oil trees, so people chase away tapirs if they see that these animals live near crops. Although hunting for tapirs is currently prohibited, these animals continue to be destroyed because tapir meat is considered a real delicacy, and reins and whips are made from the dense skin of an animal. In recent years, due to humans, the population of tapirs has been extremely reduced, and this species is on the verge of extinction.

Population and species status

Photo: A pair of black-backed tapirs

Photo: A pair of black-backed tapirs

Due to the fact that about 50% of the forests in the habitats of tapirs have been cut down in recent years, and the surviving forests are beyond the reach of tapirs, the number of animals has declined sharply. In places where these animals used to live, only 10% of the forests that are suitable for tapirs remain. In addition, animals are often persecuted by people for spoiling and destroying crops. Animals are often killed or injured inadvertently when they want to drive them off the plantations.

Interesting fact: If a tapir climbs into farms and other areas guarded by dogs, when attacked by dogs, tapirs do not run away, and show aggression. If the tapir is driven into a corner by dogs, he may begin to bite and attack. In addition, a tapir, sensing danger, can also attack a person.

To date, the species Tapirus indicus Black-backed tapir is listed in the Red Book and has the status of an endangered species. Hunting for animals of this species is prohibited by law, however, tapirs are destroyed in large numbers by poachers. Tapirs are especially vulnerable during migration, when they are forced to go out into open areas.

If people do not stop cutting down forests and hunting tapirs, these animals will soon be gone. Most tapirs now live in protected reserves, but these animals do not breed much. The exact number of tapirs in the wild is very difficult to track due to the fact that animals are nocturnal and very secretive. In addition, tapirs can migrate from their usual habitats in search of food, and it can be difficult to determine their new location.

Black-backed tapir conservation

Photo: Black-backed tapir from the Red Book

Photo: Black-backed tapir from the Red Book

A special threat to the population of the species is the deforestation of tropical forests where tapirs live. To maintain the tapir population in Nicaragua, in Thailand and in many other countries, the hunting of tapirs is prohibited at the legislative level. Additional forces are involved in the fight against poachers. Reserves are being created in which these animals live and successfully breed. This is the national park of Nicaragua, where they breed tapirs. Also in Nicaragua there is a reserve on the Caribbean coast, which covers an area of ​​almost 700 hectares.

Tapirs live in the central reserve of Surima, which covers about 16,000 square kilometers of forests near the Caribbean Sea, Brownsburg National Park. And in many other reserves. There the animals feel comfortable and bring offspring. In addition, tapirs are bred in zoos around the world, even in our country, several tapirs live in the Moscow Zoo.

In captivity, they feel comfortable, quickly get used to people and allow themselves to be looked after. But, in addition to these measures, it is important to stop deforestation in the habitats of these animals. Otherwise, black-backed tapirs will simply die out. Let's take care of nature together, let's take care of animals and their habitats. It is necessary to create more nature reserves, parks in the habitats of these animals and create conditions for the life of animals.

The black-backed tapir is a very calm and secretive animal. In the wild, these poor creatures must constantly hide from predators and hunters. The basic habits of animals are very difficult to track due to the fact that animals are almost impossible to track down in the wild. Modern science knows little about these ancient animals, and we can study the habits of these tapirs from individuals living in captivity. It has been noticed that even wild tapirs, feeling safe, cease to be aggressive and are well tamed by humans.

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