About the size of a shetland pony, the tapir is a rather odd looking animal. Not only has it a long and flexible snout like a short trunk, but it has four toes on each of its fore feet and only three toes on the hind feet.


Tapirs and Humans

Tapirs have always been a source of food for the natives of the forest, but over-hunting by outsiders has drastically reduced their numbers in some areas. Probably the tapir's most serious problem is the ever-increasing destruction of its forest habitat. Three species of tapir have declined over recent years and are classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List - the Malayan, the Mountain and the Baird's. The Lowland tapir is classified as Vulnerable. 

These strange but appealing animals need full protection if they are going to survive in the wild. Efforts are being made to give them that protection, by creating forest reserves - but nobody can be certain that action has been taken in time to save the tapir, and its forest habitat, from extinction.

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