Geographic distribution and population size of the mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) in Colombia
We conducted a study to estimate the past and present distribution and population size of T. pinchaque in Colombia.Location
The study included all mountain ranges above 2000 m.Methods
The past distribution was obtained by plotting on a map of past distribution of montane rain forests, the geographical locations with the name `danta' or `tapir' above 2000 m obtained from topographic maps, the locations cited in bibliographic references, and the results of interviews in the 530 Andean municipalities. The present distribution was obtained by plotting the present distribution of montane rain forests, the results of interviews and ground control. Population size was estimated by combining measurements of population density with maps of present distribution.Results
In the past, the species occurred in the central and eastern Cordilleras, as well as in the Andean Massive where the three cordilleras merge in the south of the country. Currently, the species occurs in the central Andes south of Nevados National Park, and in the eastern Andes, south of Paramo de Sumapaz, Bogotá. According to our most optimistic estimates, there are about 2500 tapirs in the Andes of Colombia.Main conclusions
These individuals occur in a total of thirty-five forest patches that range from 5 to 3700 km2. Only five to six fragments have the minimum necessary size (826 km2) to maintain at least 150 individuals, the estimated number to maintain viable population in the short term. The populations most threatened are those of the central Cordillera between P.N. Las Hermosas and P.N. Nevado del Huila where large tracts of mature montane forests are being converted to opium fields.