Who is it?
It has a strange appearance but this animal is a distant relative of species such as the rhinoceros or the horse.
For example, it has a thin muscular crest like a mane, from its forehead to its shoulders (which helps it, moreover, to protect it from the bites of its predators). It is a robust mammal, with a thick neck, a cylindrical appearance and short, cinnamon-coloured fur which allows it to remain unnoticed in the shadowy jungle.
Tropical and subtropical forest, between 200m and 1,500m high, is its natural habitat (Colombia, Venezuela, Paraguay, northern Argentina). The most-developed senses of the South American tapir are hearing and smell. Though its main enemy is the jaguar, hunting and habitat destruction are what have made it vulnerable.
What are its habits?
The South American tapir leads a solitary nocturnal life. Despite its size, it’s difficult to see it in its territory, which it marks with urine when walking. It usually lives near water course, where the vegetation is softer (it feeds on leaves, twigs, shoots, grasses and fruit on occasion).
The female’s gestation lasts 13 months and reaches sexual maturity when she is four years old. This animal takes long walks through territory it marks with urine as it passes.
Did you know…
The South American tapir loves to swim and submerge itself. In fact, it is a great swimmer.