Illusive and shy, the Tapir is a rather peculiar creature; with features similar to that of a horse, a rather pronounced nose and splayed hooved toes. Found in South, Central America and a few areas of Asia, this solitary forest dweller grazes on fruits and leaves.
Some may find them to be ‘weird’ or ‘odd’. Personally I think that they are sweet creatures who rarely attack people. If there is only reason to love a Tapir, it is that they are extremely adorable. Some, like the two bottom pictures are born with camouflaging yellow and brown markings, but change as they mature.
In Japanese mythology, a Tapir type spirit called a Baku was said to eat dreams and nightmares.
Like all the best wildlife, they are listed and ‘Vulnerable’ (Brazilian Tapirs are classified as ‘Endangered’). Sadly, the usual reasons such as habitat destruction and being hunted for meat apply to the gentle Tapirs. Thankfully in Costa Rica has been embarking on a long running conservation effort (Baird Tapir Project), in monitoring their social behaviours and their habitat preferences. Plus there are typical captive breeding program’s and habitat conservation to try and keep Tapirs with us for generations to come.