Across all of Central America, there are an estimated 3,000 Baird's tapirs left, according to environmental preservation organizations.That number could be cut by 80 percent in coming years if conservation measures aren't put in place, the IUCN warns in a report.Each day they put away nine kilograms (20 pounds) of leaves, fruit and horse feed, and are regularly weighed and monitored by cameras.The Baird's tapir, considered at risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is the 'most threatened' quadruped in Nicaragua.Sacasa, who began studying tapir behavior two decades ago with an American expert from Michigan University, Christopher Jordan, explained how they keep close tabs on the animals even after they are set free, tracking them through satellite-linked collars and some 150 cameras dotted through the jungle.A female tapir smells a male tapir at the National Zoo in Masaya, Nicaragua.
In Ticuantepe Zoo, efforts are deployed to have them reproduce. Gestation is long—14 months—and females produce only one offspring at a time.That number could be cut by 80 percent in coming years if conservation measures aren't put in place, the IUCN warns Others included the anteater, jaguar, puma, howler monkey and the white-headed capuchin monkey.A plan by the government to have a Chinese company carve a massive canal right across the country, to rival the lucrative waterway in Panama, has further stirred ecologists' concerns.'Here, they're well fed,' said Eduardo Sacasa, a wildlife expert who runs the reproductive program.In some cases, too much so: one of the males, a three-year-old called Pamka, was put on a diet because 'he is too fat.'Human encroachment and climate change have decimated the woodland habitat of the Baird's tapir, one of five species left in the world, and, along with human and feline predators, have helped wipe out 16 other tapir species.