The Tapir, known locally as the “Mountain Cow,” is Belize’s national animal, protected under law. But last week, one of these gentle creatures was killed in the Chiquibul Forest, yes, Belize’s national animal was killed, and FCD rangers believe Guatemalan poachers pulled the trigger. The incident happened sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning last week in an area known as Chalio Lake, frequented by Tapirs. The FCD members were conducting bio-monitoring activities in that area- baby sitting newly hatched scarlet macaws, to prevent poaching- when they were alerted by gunshots being fired. Derrick Chan, Manager of the Chiquibul National Park told us more.
“We found out that there was a lot of illegal human activity like human footprints, we heard shots in the night and we also came across poachers. We actually encountered the poachers. On the fifteenth…on the fourteenth in heard some shots and we were alerted so on the fifteenth, on Friday, we went in the morning to where we heard the shots and that is where we found a dead male tapir. Apparently It was shot and killed. It was along a creek, inside the creek actually. We found bullet shells of a .22 riffle close to the tapir. Our suspicion is that the same poachers that are trying to poach macaws, this is really a problem . it happens every year and this year is no exception to that.”
Emanuel Pech – Plus TV Reporter
“What is the logic behind killing this animal?”
“We do not know because it doesn’t seem to be any attempts that they were harvesting the meat. They just killed the animal and left it there . Tapir are harmless. They are really big animals, they look big in the jungle. They do not really chase you. Male tapirs are not aggressive, females when they have babies would protect their babies but they are not aggressive animals. It is probably just a matter of people having guns and they will shoot at anything they see on their way. I don’t see any logic on why they would kill the animal.”
The age of the tapir is not know, but FCD rangers say it was a full-grown male.