I actually saw a tapir in Costa Rica in January (2014) !!!! Wow! I had not expected to be that lucky!
This was in Corcovado national park, at the Pacific coast (west coast). I joined an organized tour one day in the park. We met other groups who had just seen a tapir. But when we arrived at the location, it was gone.
However, we found fresh footprints of a tapir. For me, that was more than fantastic. As I live in Norway, tapirtracks are extremely exotic!
I was surprised that the footprints were so big. In deep tracks, as in this mud, the fourth toe on forefoot appears. Hind foot is about 17 cm with.
The tapir had eaten bark. They have really big tooth. They eat 15 kg food per day.
They are vegatians, and eat mostly leaves and stems, but also fruit, bark and flowers.
Here is the tapir sleeping! Finally I saw my first tapir!
Research on 5 tapirs with radio-collars in Corcovado showed peak activity at around 7:00 pm and from 3:00 to 4:00 am. So this was in the early afternoon, not unnormal that it was sleeping. Tapirs are about 2 meters long.
It is sad to read that in Corcovado, tapirs are frequently killed (hunted by people) around the edges of the park, and even inside the protected area. Tapirs mature and reproduce so slowly that populations still have not recovered from past hunting. There are only few hundreds left in Costa Rica today.
Corcovado is the area where tapirs seem most common. The area is 40,000 ha, and is the largest area of protected lowland forest along the Pacific coast of Central America.
Text and photo: Beate Strøm Johansen.
Text is from the book: The Mammals of Costa Rica, by Mark Wainwright.