Images of a dead tapir lying on the road side without its limbs surfaced on social media last night. Many were in disbelief, considering the tapir, or mountain cow, is Belize’s National Animal. The hunting of these animals is an Illegal act and persons can be fined a total of $10,000. Tapirs often travel at night, which sometimes causes drivers to hit them while they are crossing the road. Love News was able to speak to Wilber Sabido, Chief Executive Officer of Forest Department, who told us where they found the carcass of the tapir.
Wilber Sabido – Chief Executive Officer of Forest Department: “A Tapir was knocked down last night and we got the information through social media. It seemed to have been knocked down around the Manatee Lookout area where Williamson’s Textile Factory used to exist. We responded to the call this morning and we were able to find the animal thrown beside the highway. As well on social media some graphic images were shown where two of the limbs from the Tapir were actually cut off. When we arrived in fact we found it without any of its four limbs. As far as Tapirs this would be just about the second that we are aware of. One such incident occurred probably about two, maybe three years ago. Certainly it was appalling to have us encounter such a situation however we do have situations where parts from Jaguars for instance, from crocodiles are removed, teeth especially are used as ornaments and are sold to tourists so the removal of parts from wildlife is something that occurs in Belize. It is illegal but it seems that there is still a market and a demand for it thus there is a supply. We have had occurrences of Tapirs actually being knocked down on the road along our highways especially between the Burrell Boom and Ladyville junction. Those are known areas that Tapirs use to cross from one portion of the forest into another, it is a natural corridor. With the highway being built they move from one point to the next. They need to access the highway and accidents usually happen during the night or late at night. When we receive reports of an accident involving a Tapir we respond quickly and retrieve the carcass.”
According to Sabido, there are no tapir crossing signs, and as such, drivers should be cautious to avoid hitting tapirs, or any animal, that may cross the highways at night.