Tapir is the official national animal of Belize. Tapir was entitled as the official Belize national animal. Tapirus Bairdii is the scientific name of Tapir. Tapirs are large mammals that look like wild hogs with anteater snouts. In reality, tapirs are neither, and they are most closely related to horses and rhinos. The word “tapir” comes from a native Brazilian language which means “thick”. Most tapirs are known to live in South America, ranging from southern Mexico to Venezuela, Brazil and Paraguay. The Malayan tapir is the exception; it lives in Asia- Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Sumatra. No matter which region these animals live in, all tapirs live in areas that have a good water source, including rainforests, woods,
mountains and grasslands.National Animal of Belize Facts—
- Common Name: Tapir
- Scientific Name: Tapirus Bairdii
- Type: Mammal
- Color: Tapirs range in color from reddish brown, to grey, to nearly black, with the prominent exceptions of the Malayan tapir, which has a white, saddle-shaped marking on its back, and the mountain tapir, which has seemingly longer, woolly fur.
- Length: most tapirs are about 2 m (6.6 ft) long
- Height: about 1 m (3 ft) high at the shoulder
- Weight: weigh between 150 and 300 kg (330 and 700 lb)
- Diet: In the wild, the tapir’s diet consists of fruit, berries, and leaves, particularly young, tender growth
- Cubs: Under good conditions, a healthy female tapir can reproduce every two years; a single young, called a calf, is born after a gestation of about 13 months.
- Behavior: They frequently live in dryland forests, but tapirs with access to rivers spend a good deal of time in and underwater, taking refuge from predators, and cooling off during hot periods.
- Lifespan: 25 to 3 years
Belize’s national animal Tapir is known to be the largest land mammal of Central America. Called the “mountain cow” in Belize, they are forest dwellers and active mostly at night since they forage along river banks and forest clearings. The tapir has a ‘prehensile’, which is a long nose like an elephant or anteater, but is actually related to the horse and rhinoceros. Its usual color is dusty brown with a white fringe around the eyes and lips, white tipped ears and infrequent white patches of fur on the throat and chest. They live on grasses, aquatic vegetation, leaves, buds, and fruits of the low-growing shrubs. Its long, flexible upper lip and flat molars are well suited for foraging and swallowing twigs, nuts, and other tough plant tissues found throughout river basins. This herbivore spends roughly 90% of its waking hours hunting for food.
The national animal of Belize, Tapir is a rare animal. Hunting and habitat loss are the main reasons the tapir population is decreasing all over Central America. The National Animal is protected under the law and thus, the hunting of the tapir is illegal. Today, there are large forest reserves in Belize to protect the remaining populations. The main threats to the tapir survival are hunting and deforestation. Tapirs are usually solitary except when mothers have young. They range over large territories and are excellent swimmers spending a fair amount of time in Forest Rivers. They are also agile climbers, crashing up steep hillsides and river banks with apparent ease. When surprised, tapirs generally head for water, but will sometimes stamp their feet loudly and sometimes whistle. The tapir is an extra special animal for its importance to Belize. The protection and of these precious animals is vital and we must all do our part in helping with the conservation process.