A Tapir, scientifically known as Tapirus terrestris, is a large sized browsing mammal. The other common names of this animal are Brazilian tapir and lowland tapir. Till now scientists have found four different species of tapir viz. the Malayan tapir, Brazilian tapir, Mountain tapir and Baird’s tapir. These species are placed in the odd-toed hooved family of animals, called as perissodactyls. Other members included in the family are the horses and rhinoceroses. Although they are land animals, they prefer living in mud and water most of the time. The tropical rain forests and swampy areas are the main areas of living for these species.
The appearance of Tapir is similar to the pig, the only difference being the short prehensile snout or can be called as long rubbery nose. The body color and size differs with species with the Malaya tapir being the largest of all, weighing around 800 pounds. In general most of the tapirs are 2 meters long and their height can be around 1 meter at shoulders. The weight varies from 150-300 kg. Having the most dramatic coloration of the body; the head, legs and shoulders are black with a white band around the body. The sexual maturity is reached at the age of 3-5 years and the gestation period is about 13 months. Being a typical herbivore species, they feed upon leaves, water plants and fallen fruits.
All the four species of tapir is listed as endangered or vulnerable. The average lifespan of the species is about 25-30 years. One of the major conservation steps includes celebrating world Tapir day on 27th April, the Baird’s Tapir project of Costa Rica and formation of the Tapir Specialists Group, a unit of the IUCN species survival commission. All the projects are doing well in conserving and protecting all the for tapir species that inhabit Central and South America and South-East Asia.