Ecology and local knowledge of the Baird's tapir (Tapirella bairdii) in the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, Mexico

Mario César Lavariega Nolasco, Miguel Briones-Salas, Amado Mazas-Teodocio, Elvira Durán-Medina

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Abstract

© 2016 International Society of Zoological Sciences, Institute of Zoology/Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd. As well as being of global cultural importance (from local tribal folklore to being an iconic species for conservation), the tapir plays an important role in its ecosystem as a herbivore and seed disperser. However, the ecology and ethnozoology of the endangered Baird's tapir in the north of Oaxaca, Mexico is poorly understood. We used camera traps to estimate its relative abundance and density and to describe the activity patterns of the northernmost population of Baird's tapir in the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca. Local knowledge concerning the tapir was also documented, along with the conservation strategies undertaken by the 2 indigenous communities that own the land where the study site is located. Only adult tapirs were photographed, and these were active 14 h per day, but were mainly nocturnal and crepuscular. The estimated relative abundance (12.99 ± 2.24 events/1000 camera days) and density values (0.07-0.24 individuals/km(2) ) were both similar to those found in another site in Mexico located within a protected area. Semi-structured interviews revealed that people have a basic understanding of the eating habits, activity and main predators of the tapir. There were reports of hunting, although not among those respondents who regularly consume bush meat. Thus, the relative abundance and density estimates of tapir at the study site could be related to the favorable condition of the forest and the absence of hunting and consumption of tapir meat. Fortunately, the local people are conducting initiatives promoting the conservation of this ungulate and its habitat that combine to constitute a regional trend of habitat and wildlife protection.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)361-374
Number of pages323
JournalIntegrative zoology
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

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