From Tapirs to Wild Horses & Burros and more, lets save them where they belong–in the wild!
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The Mountain Tapir
Standing about one-
The Andean Tapir Fund
The Andean Tapir Fund offers lectures on this endangered species by ecologist Craig C. Downer. These present many stunning, unprecedented color slides & videos taken in Ecuador's Sangay National Park & other little visited regions of the northern Andes. Downer has undertaken pioneering studies of this herbivorous animal in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Extending over a decade, he has captured & radio tracked as well as personally observed these secretive, partially nocturnal animals. Learning the foods they eat & which seeds germinate through their feces, he has advanced a theory concerning their mutualistic evolutionary relationship with plants of the mid to high northern Andes. His meticulous observations of the tapir's ecological relationships with other animal & plant species has provided insights into the unique functioning of the northern Andean ecosystem.
Breakthrough seed dispersal & germination of many of the diverse plant species eaten by the mountain tapir have established the important ecological role this benign & mutualistic species plays in the northern Andes (see Journal of Zoology, London, July, 2001 for Downer’s most recent article on this subject).
After nearly a decade of intensive investigation, Downer prepared an action plan (1997) for preserving this speciesfrom extinction in the wild for the World Conservation Union, Species Survival Commission, Tapir Specialist Group. This plan involves public education programs coupled with the respectful implementation of alternative, sustainable lifestyles, including the resuscitation of crops such as Quinoa grain (a "complete food"), nutritious blue green algae, sacha machua (Tropaeolum sp.), & Lupine bean.
Currently the Andean Tapir Fund is making great headway in northern Peru where significant gains against illegal poachers and traffickers in mountain tapirs have been accomplished, and substantial public support has been created for the mountain tapirs and their habitat. Most exciting here is the pending creation of a special sanctuary for the mountain tapir in the last cloud forest and paramo redoubts. If the Andean Tapir Fund can obtain matching funding of $8,000, this project can go ahead immediately with GPS delineation of the new sanctuary, baseline species inventory, ecological description, and the establishing report and justification before government authorities. Those interested in helping should contact the Andean Tapir Fund immediately.
Major mining interests are poised to take over these last mountain tapir cloud forest homes if action does not go forth immediately. Also the Andean Tapir Fund needs to continue its work in and around Sangay National Park in Ecuador, where in 2001 and 2002, a major public inquiry, education program, and GPS river survey on 5 major rivers was conducted, already resulting in national publicity and reforms -
Fluent in Spanish & English, Downer has given talks, organized/ directed research/ conservation projects, in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia & Venezuela. His articles, both scientific & popular, guided films, TV/ radio addresses, & presentations have helped to spark local & international interest/ concern/projects for the future well-
During Downer's 20+ years of conservation work, he has helped establish & better protect several nature reserves with remnant mountain tapir populations in northern Peru, Ecuador & Colombia. Downer holds A.B. & M.S. degrees in biology with a specialization in wildlife ecology, particularly herbivorous odd-
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