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Aug 7, 2019

Adult Female Tapir is Fatally Injured and Butchered

A vehicle unfortunately knocked down and killed a female tapir on the area of Manatee Lookout on the Philip Goldson Highway.  And soon enough, the legs of the tapir were cut off.  Now, the tapir is considered a delicacy so it is felt that it was butchered to be consumed.  Hours after, the carcass was removed from the area which is known as a habitat for three tapirs. Conservationists are up in arms because the species of the national animal is facing extinction. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

On Tuesday, an adult female tapir was knocked down and killed on the Philip Goldson Highway near the airport junction. It is believed to be one of three tapirs that reside in the wild in the Vista del Mar area of Ladyville, but was struck by a vehicle and died at the entrance of the Textile compound. But within hours, the unthinkable occurred. As residents traversed the area, they would soon notice that the carcass of the tapir had been butchered. The hind legs were first removed and within minutes, the front legs were taken. There was also a cut wound to the neck.


Celso Pott

Celso Pott, Tapir Researcher, Belize Tapir Project

“It was an awful news Duane. The area there around the Philip Goldson Highway has a high density of tapir. We know of at least three tapirs that reside in the Vista del Mar area. We have collected at least three dead tapirs from that area over the years including a baby tapir that was less than a week old. I received the message last night that a tapir got hit by a car and was dead. Within a few minutes I received a photo of the hind legs being butchered from the tapir and within an hour or two, I received a subsequent photo that all four legs were butchered were removed from the tapir.”


But who could do such a thing, especially to the national animal of Belize? It is no secret that the tapir population is at risk of extinction. Tapir Researcher Celso Pott since 2012 has been appealing to the public about speeding and the risk to the nocturnal mammals. But it seems that there is another threat to the national animal by hunters who, similarly like game meat, seek out its flesh for consumption.


Celso Pott

“It shows that the tapir are facing more pressures; it is not just the roads, it is not just the development. People obviously are still consuming tapir meat in this day and age.”


Duane Moody

“As in like how you eat beef or pork?”


Celso Pott

“Right. You have certain cultures in Belize—if you look up the literature—you will see that certain culture in Belize used to consume tapir over the years. Getting the national animal status, there was a reduction in human consumption of tapir meat. But I have come across hunters who tell me that yeah, we eat tapir. A while back, a tapir was hit near the Corozal border and by the time I reached up there, all four legs were also butchered. All I found was the body of the tapir. We also found a butchered tapir in the Vaca area, in the Cayo District and also one on the Sibun River. So year, they are still being hunted and eaten in Belize, sadly.”


According to Pott, tapirs are the largest mammals in Belize; the herbivores have a very low reproductive rate. There is concern that the rate at which they are being killed can threaten its existence.


Earlier today, rangers from the Forest Department, specifically the Wildlife Unit, visited the scene to document the incident. With the assistance of a heavy equipment, the carcass was placed in the pan of a pickup truck and taken away. A post-mortem will be done to determine the cause of death after which the remains will be buried.


Voice of: Edwardo Pott, Forest Ranger, Wildlife Programme, Forest Department

“It is something that is not recommended for the public to do. I mean it is the national animal and these types of things are not tolerated by the Forest Department. So if anybody out there has any information on the butchering of this animal, we would appreciate if they can call us and give us information on what happened. This is like any other hit and run; sadly it’s the animals. There is little that we can do if we do not have enough information.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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