About the Tapir Specialist Group

The Tapir Specialist Group is a unit of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. We conserve biological diversity by stimulating, developing, and executing practical programs to study, save, restore, and manage the four species of tapir and their remaining habitats in Central and South America and Southeast Asia.

Our strategies:

a.) Frequent review, status determination and publicizing of tapirs and their needs

b.) Promoting and supporting research and distributing materials

c.) Promoting the implementation of conservation and management programs by appropriate organizations and governments

d.) Establishing strong and effective relationships among tapir conservationists to stimulate communication and cooperation

Tapir Specialist Group and Its Partners

The IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG) is a scientific organization founded in 1980 as one of the 120 Specialist Groups of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The TSG and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Tapir Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), the main organizers of the Second International Tapir Symposium, together with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Tapir Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) and the Tapir Preservation Fund (TPF), are the key groups working on developing and implementing tapir research, conservation and management programs. An important aspect of the mission of these four groups is to contribute to the development of a coordinated international conservation strategy for tapirs.

Who Is TSG?

TSG has over 140 members, including field researchers, educators, veterinarians, governmental agencies and NGO representatives, zoo personnel, university professors and students, from 28 countries worldwide (Argentina, Australia, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela). All members are directly or indirectly involved in tapir field research and/or captive breeding in their respective regions. Over fifty percent of our members hail from developing countries.

View our Membership Directory

TSG operates on a 100% volunteer basis. None of our members are paid by TSG for their tireless work on behalf of tapirs. In 2003 we established the Tapir Specialist Group Conservation Fund to raise funds to support the implementation of the recommendations of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. The fund supports such activities such as creating educational and marketing materials for in-situ and ex-situ education initiatives, giving small grants to tapir researchers to sustain their projects, and supporting vital meetings such as the International Tapir Symposiums where tapir researchers can come together in person to share information, strategize and plan for tapir conservation.

Tapir Specialist Group Conservation Fund

To help fund our work, donations are coordinated by our U.S. institutional sponsor, the Houston Zoo. We are grateful to the Houston Zoo, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, for sponsoring our non-profit fund.

Find out more about donating to the Tapir Specialist Group

International Tapir Symposium – A Vital Connection Among Tapir Researchers

The First International Tapir Symposium was held in November 2001, in Costa Rica, and attracted 95 participants from 22 countries, proving to be a major boost for tapir conservation. Never before has there been so many tapir experts and conservationists, key players in the development of tapir conservation programs, assembled under one roof to share knowledge and address the challenges ahead for tapir species. Specific topics discussed during the First Symposium were field research, veterinary issues, population management, husbandry, fundraising, marketing, education, and tapir bio-politics.

At the First Symposium, we developed a list of goals and actions for the future, related to the structure of the TSG, communication, fundraising, and the urgent need to review the first edition of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan (1997). Several different task forces were formed and assigned specific responsibilities, and since then, the TSG has been growing stronger and improving its structure and effectiveness in many different ways.

2 weeks ago

Tapir Specialist Group

Photo by @lucianocandisani ( Luciano Candisani ). Sometimes the biggest south america’s land mammal ( the tapir ) just walk under the water to cross rivers. Jardim, MS, Brazil, 2014. @lucianocandisani @natgeo #candisani#lucianocandisani#fotografia#fotografiabrasileira#photography #tapir #underwaterphotography ... See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Tapir Specialist Group

Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI), Brazil - OVERVIEW 2018It is hard to believe 2018 is about to come to an end… SO MUCH has happened this year, so many changes, mostly good ones, sooooooo many accomplishments, sooooooo much progress. I think I can safely say that 2018 was one of the most productive years in the history of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative here in Brazil … I have to say it was quite a journey.

I know we are all busy running around and trying to get ready for the holidays, but I wanted to give you a brief overview of our accomplishments in 2018!

Early in the year, I spent two months at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) in Front Royal. My main mission while at SCBI was to run a first round of spatial data analysis of over 20 years of tapir data from the Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and Cerrado. It was an incredible experience which pretty much established the "mode" and the "mood" for the rest of the year! Throughout 2018, we spent a huge amount of our time and energy finalizing different components of our data collection and then processing, organizing and analyzing our data and working on publications! One paper was published, two accepted for publication, three submitted to journals, and five are still in preparation. Next year promises to be even more productive in terms of publications!

Field work was insanely fruitful as well. In the Cerrado, our team was amazingly successful in retrieving our final 10 GPS collars! Six of the collars fell off (they were equipped with release mechanisms, all collars were located and retrieved) and four animals had to be darted and recaptured for collar retrieval. We have already downloaded and processed all the data from the 10 collars … tons and tons and tons of data. With that, I am very happy to report that we have concluded the spatial data collection in the Cerrado. From now on, the focus of the work in the Cerrado will be on applying the data and results for the mitigation of the threats we have identified in the region.

Throughout the year, we continued to work extra hard towards lobbying for the implementation of our road-kill mitigation plans. Our lawsuit against AGESUL – the governmental agency responsible for infrastructure design, construction and maintenance in the state – and IMASUL - the state environmental agency – is moving forward (although slowly, which is very frustrating at times) and we should have news early in 2019. In addition, we are now working with the 'State and Federal Agencies for Law Enforcement and Prosecution of Crimes' on publicizing and disseminating our pesticide contamination data. We developed a report about this issue, which received A LOT of media attention, and we are now part of a state commission that works towards fighting the impact of pesticides throughout Mato Grosso do Sul, including the Pantanal and Cerrado biomes. Please follow the links to the most relevant media so far-




Also, please see below a film that was produced as a landmark for the conclusion of the Fondation Segré 3-year grant to the TSG World Tapir Conservation Program, which included the LTCI Cerrado Project. The video is pretty amazing, you have to watch it…

The conditions in the Pantanal were very extreme this year. When the time came for our first Pantanal expedition in June, the ranch was still partially flooded, and we had to run our field activities through a combination of driving (not much), walking (a lot!) and horse-back riding! It was tough, very challenging on the team, but also a lot of fun! In August and October, it was possible to drive around most of the area. Then, it rained cats and dogs throughout November and we had to cancel our December expedition because ca. 80% of the ranch was flooded, to the point where we could not reach most of our box traps. Part of the team still had to fly to the ranch to check our camera-traps (on horse-back!). In August, we had increased our grid to 50 camera-traps and I was super worried about some of them. Only one of the cameras was underwater, two others were at risk, so the team was able to keep 47 cameras in place. We will go back to them in February.

Nevertheless, with all the problems in the Pantanal this year, we were still able to run three capture expeditions, we had 32 capture events (12 new individuals and 20 recaptures), four sub-adults were equipped with expandable GPS collars for our study of family units, and one sub-adult ready for dispersal was equipped with a GPS Iridium collar (this is the system that sends data to my computer and I am so hoping we will finally be able to monitor tapir dispersal!!!!!!!!!!!!).

In January-February-March, I will be locked in my office running the final spatial analysis and preparing first drafts of our movement ecology papers. Then I am going back to SCBI in April for two weeks of work with my gurus Justin Calabrese, Mike Noonan, and Chris Fleming! The plan is to submit the papers at some point in May!

What else happened in 2018???

With the help of TSG Fellow Angela Alviz and Volunteer Anne-Fleur Brand we developed a most fantastic key to estimate tapir age through teeth!!!!!! YES, YES, YES … we now know the ages of most of the animals we have captured since the Atlantic Forest, we know the ages of most of the animals killed on highways and this is bringing SO MUCH PRECIOUS INFORMATION to the table! We will publish the key soon!

We celebrated 10 years of tapir conservation work in the Pantanal!!!!!!! And we continue to use the LTCI Pantanal Program as our opportunity to collect some pieces of information we would never be able to collect anywhere else! We are so grateful to Baia das Pedras Ranch and the Jurgielewicz family for all the support they provide to our work!!!

We won an award! The William G. Conway International Conservation Award - Significant Achievement!!! The nomination was sponsored by five long-term zoo supporters of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative – Houston, Columbus, Nashville, Disney, and Jacksonville – and we could not be more grateful!!!

We trained dozens of TSG Fellows, interns and volunteers, national and international. We hosted lots of visitors including friends and supporters of the project. We presented in several national and international conferences and gave a number of lectures to students and professionals in universities in Mato Grosso do Sul. I am pretty confident we have managed to reach thousands of people.

We concluded some important research components including: 1- Tapir health studies in the Pantanal and Cerrado … we are still running exams and analysis with samples we have collected and stored throughout the years, but the main sampling is officially finished!; 2- We concluded sampling for our genetic studies… we have the incredible number of 503 tissue samples for genetics (30 from the Atlantic Forest, 106 from the Pantanal, and 367 from the Cerrado, including road-kill) and our main questions are related to genetic relatedness and population genetics … SUPER EXCITING!; 3- We concluded the collection of fecal samples for a nutrition study … lab work is already underway, we should have results soon; 4- We finished data collection on the use of highway underpasses by tapirs (MS-040 Highway) and our veterinarian Ariel Canena and road-ecology expert Fernanda Abra are now analyzing data and working on a paper.

Something I am SUPER excited about … we are very close to concluding the compilation of life table parameters for PVA modeling! Pantanal --- AND --- Cerrado!!! Camera-traps have been our main tool to collect these data, through recording and monitoring tapir offspring throughout the years. We now have life table parameters for wild tapirs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In March 2019, we will work with Vortex modelers from the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) and develop baseline models, different conservation and management scenarios etc. This will be the basis for the future of tapir conservation planning!!!

We provided our data and information to two very important conservation processes in Brazil: 1- Our Brazilian Red List of Threatened Species, and 2- A National Action Plan for Threatened Ungulates (including tapirs, peccaries and deer). I coordinated both processes in partnership with our environmental agency (ICMBIO) and we now have an updated Red List assessment for tapirs and an Action Plan, which is something we had been fighting for since many years ago! MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT!

We hired a full-time communication expert!!!!!!!!!! This has been a dream of mine for several years and it is now coming true thanks to the support from the Houston Zoo!!! Rodrigo Motta is our new staff member and his experience will be a major asset for the process of spreading the word about the tapir conservation cause in Brazil! Rodrigo came to the Pantanal with us in October and came back to the office full of ideas! In February 2019, we will run a 2-day workshop to develop a communication strategic plan for the LTCI! Please follow our social media outlets for regular news:
Our website – www.tapirconservation.org.br – is being completely revamped, the new site will be launched early in 2019.
(NOTE- We are trying our best to keep our posts bilingual – Portuguese and English)

AND… finally… we are moving fast with the organization of our first AMAZON EXPEDITION in June 2019!!!! We are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to take the first steps on the establishment of our fourth program! We will have more info soon, and I will keep you posted!

I think this is a good overview of what we have done in 2018 … and we are very happy with our results. Most importantly, we are VERY GRATEFUL for your support and for helping us make all of this happen. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart.

As I am sure all of you know, we have a new president in Brazil, Mr. Jair Bolsonaro. I am trying to stay as positive as possible, but it is already very clear to us that conservation will be a daily battle for us after the 1st of January, when Mr. Bolsonaro takes charge. Wish us luck!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and the most fantastic New Year. May 2019 bring all of us health, energy and passion to do everything we need to do for wildlife conservation around the world.

Big hugs,

Pati Medici and team
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NOVIDADES!!! Estamos dando início ao CANAL OFICIAL da Iniciativa Nacional para a Conservação da Anta Brasileira no YouTube!!! A ideia é postar vídeos das nossas expedições de campo, vídeos institucionais, documentários e novos projetos audiovisuais que estamos desenvolvendo para falar sobre a causa da conservação da anta. Convido a todos para acessar o link abaixo e realizar sua INSCRIÇÃO no canal para acompanhar nossas novidades de pertinho:


NEWSFLASH!!! We are launching the OFFICIAL YOUTUBE CHANNEL of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative!!! The ideia is to post videos of our field expeditions, institutional videos, documentaries and new audiovisual projects we have been developing to spread the word about the tapir conservation cause! Please access the link below and SUBSCRIBE for the channel so that you can follow our news and updates:
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1 month ago

Tapir Specialist Group

Here goes an AMAZING film about the results of our 3-year grant from Fondation Segré (SEP/2015 - OCT/2018) including an alliance of five conservation programs covering the four tapir species in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Nicaragua! Thank you SO SO SO SO SO MUCH, Fondation Segré and so many other institutional and financial supporters from around the world. We accomplished SO MUCH but the work continues as we still have plenty of work ahead of us ... Tapirs need us!!!! Produced by Laurie Hedges - lauriehedges.com ... See MoreSee Less

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