12 14/12/2010

Tapir calf caught on camera

A LOWLAND Tapir mum and her calf sneak past a hidden camera trap in a series of images that capture wildlife at its finest in the Brazilian Pantanal.

The pair were pictured as they strolled past a camera that had been set up in a tapir latrine to capture images of the species.

In another image, a nosy giant anteater also saunters past, as does a juvenile marsh deer, unaware that their moves are being caught on camera.

Dedicated tapir researchers working in the Baía das Pedras Ranch in the Pantanal, Brazil, as part of a project part-funded by Chester Zoo, uncovered the shots as they looked for tapir activity.

The sighting of the tapir female and her calf has raised further questions for the researchers. They eventually hope to be able to radio-collar the mother to help gather more data for the project.

Patrícia Medici, who runs the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil, says: “All the tapir photos, especially those taken at tapir latrines, will help us gather precious information about the social organisation and reproduction of this species.

“We know very little about these aspects of tapir life and it raises many research questions for us. Potentially in the future we will be able to photograph mating pairs and mothers with their calves over longer periods of time and determine how fast calves develop and how long they stay with the mothers before leaving to establish their own home ranges. 

“These are critical pieces of information for the assessment of the status of lowland tapir populations in the Pantanal.”