Tapirs are one of my favourite animals, and the Kabomani Tapir (Tapirus kabomani) is arguably the most interesting out of all of them. Very little is known about this South American mammal. Tapirs are pig-like, odd-toed ungulates meaning they have an odd number of toes on their feet, other odd-toed ungulates include horses, zebras, and rhinos. The existence of the kabomani tapir was only announced in 2013, making it the first odd-toed ungulate to be discovered in over 100 years. Prior to its discovery, the mountain tapir was thought to be the smallest tapir species, but now we know the kabomani is actually the smallest.
This mysterious mammal is found in the Amazon rainforest, where it shares its habitat alongside the Brazilian tapir (also known as the South American tapir). In zoology, two species which live in the same geographical area and thus frequently encounter one another are referred to as sympatric species. In their forest habitat, the kabomani tapir feeds on palm tree leaves and seeds but still very little is known about their diet and feeding habits. So far, zoologists know that they are a nocturnal species which generally lives a solitary life but more research is required to fully understand their behaviour.
From a descriptive perspective, the kabomani tapir is very similar to the South American tapir (so much so that some scientists dispute whether the kabomani is actually a distinct species) however the kabomani is far smaller – only weighing up to 110kg – and has a darker brown coat.
Unfortunately, the kabomani tapir faces many threats from humans and they are considered endangered in certain areas. Deforestation, population growth and the construction of dams and large roads are all reducing the tapir’s habitat, a habitat which is shared with thousands of other spectacular species. Moreover, some indigenous tribes like the Karitiana tribe often hunt these tapirs, further dwindling their population.
The fact that this species was only discovered in 2013 makes me realise how incomprehensibly huge our earth is and how much of it is still unknown to us, and for me, there is something wonderful about that. The world is a glorious place, but we don’t seem to show our home, and the life it provides, the proper respect. I know I am going on somewhat of a tangent here but let me get back to my point: the kabomani tapir is yet another species threatened by humans and it just makes you grasp how significant our actions are and how far their consequences reach.