The first birth of a wild tapir in Rio de Janeiro’s Atlantic Forest for more than a century made headlines in the local media. For the scientists, that means new hope for a recovery of Brazil’s most endangered ecosystem.
In Brazil, the wild tapir is the threatened mammal, which is often described as “a forest gardener” because it plays a vital role in the dispersal of seeds.
This week, the camera trap in the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve has caught the baby tapir and released in Brazilian media outlets. For the local researchers, that was the happiest ever moment when they realized that the calf was born in January and a second may be on its way because another adult female appears to be pregnant.
In fact, the birth of the wild tapir calf is a milestone for the reintroduction project, which has been eight years in planning and implementation, said Maron Galliez, a professor of biology at the Federal Institute of Education in Rio.
In Brazil, the tapir reintroduction programme aims to accelerate restoration of a degraded natural habitat.
Brazil’s ecosystem has chance to recover
Wild tapirs were eradicated in Rio de Janeiro state in 2014, and biologists say their return is more than symbolic. The funny-looking and massive mammals play an important role in their ecosystem.
“The birth of a tapir in nature indicates the formation of a population in the state,” Prof Galliez said and stressed that tapir’s back is essential to restoring the proper functioning of this ecosystem.
As Galliez reiterated, the return of a tapir population in Rio de Janeiro could be a turning point, which signalises the recovering of the ecosystem.