BAIRDS GUATEMALA working team in Dos Lagunas Biotopo

Guatemala Baird’s Tapir Conservation Program

The Guatemalan Protected Areas System (SIGAP) was created to guarantee the conservation of biodiversity in this mega-biodiverse country. In order to improve the management and spatial planning of the SIGAP, the Baird’s tapir, the largest terrestrial mammal sharing habitat with ca. 70% of vertebrate species of Guatemala, has been suggested as a landscape species.

In 2009, an assessment of the species conservation status in the SIGAP suggested the country harbored only one viable tapir population, in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (RBM) and adjacent reserves in neighboring countries. For our proposed project, our main expected outcome is the reduction of habitat loss and degradation in the RBM through direct management actions and involving local beneficiaries of tapir habitat’s ecosystem services into tapir conservation.

The specific goals are:

  1. To develop a National Strategy for the Conservation of Tapirs and their Habitat as an inter-institutional coordination tool nationally
  2. To create and implement a tapir monitoring system to assess the effectiveness of conservation and management actions
  3. To strengthen control and surveillance activities in two vulnerable areas
  4. To involve local community tourism guides in tapir conservation as beneficiaries of tapir habitat conservation, and
  5. To build a self-sustainable tapir conservation program

Goals and objectives

The overall goal is to improve the effectiveness for Baird’s tapir conservation of three core areas of the Maya Biosphere Reserve (RBM), through the development of tools for interagency coordination, creation of a monitoring system for tapir conservation status and effectiveness of management actions, strengthening control and surveillance activities in vulnerable tapir habitat areas, involvement of local community tourism guides and other local actors into tapir habitat conservation, and the development of our project into a long-term, sustainable tapir conservation program.
The five specific objectives are:

The creation of a coordination tool for government institutions and NGOs related to the tapir and its habitat, to promote the collaborative work for the conservation of the species with goals, strategies and actions in common.

That 40% of the core areas of the Maya Biosphere Reserve (RBM) generate standardized information about the tapir conservation status which serves as a support for decision making for biodiversity conservation and protected areas management.

Two (2) Protected area’s programs of control and surveillance strengthened in tapir habitat areas vulnerable to threats in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (RBM).

Increased number of local actors, direct users of ecosystem goods and services from tapir habitats, involved into tapir habitat conservation in vulnerable sites of the Maya Biosphere Reserve (RBM).

Creation of the basis for the future establishment of a self-sustainable monitoring and conservation program of the Baird’s tapir habitat in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (RBM)

Project Progress

OBJECTIVE 1 – CONSERVATION TOOLS FOR NGOs AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: Major advances were focused on the conformation of the scientific committee in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) and the working group for the development of the National Strategy for Tapir Conservation. Regarding the scientific committee in the MBR, we conducted two workshops and one follow-up meeting with increasing number of representatives. By the date of this report the group was made up of eight organizations (4 GOs and 4 NGOs). where a 3-year action plan was defined by a group of seven institutions.

OBJECTIVE 2 – SYSTEMATIC TAPIR MONITORING: Related to the Standardized Tapir Monitoring Protocol, a draft of the document for the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) by the Guatemalan Tapir Conservation Program was edited in Spanish, from September to November 2015 for the monitoring of an endangered species. The local scale focuses on Core Protected Areas (CPA) of the MBR, and include three spatial scales for data sampling (distance within sampling units of 1.5km2, 5-6 km2 and 10-12km2).

OBJECTIVE 3 – IMPROVED PROTECTED AREA SURVEILLANCE IN KEY TAPIR HABITAT: Related to the improvement of surveillance in prioritized tapir habitat within the three CPA, a training workshop was held on March 1st 2016, at Cerro Cahuí Protected Biotopo. We trained 18 park rangers and two technicians from CECON and FDN whom attended to the activity. The workshop focused mainly on the implementation of the protocol, so recording methods for wildlife (camera traps, use of GPS, and recognition of raptor species) and threats were the main topics.

With the support of the program three control and surveillance patrols were carried out in El Zotz Protected Biotopo in critical areas for tapir conservation and two patrols in Sierra del Lacandón National Park. There were many illegal activities recorded during the patrols (logging, illegal timber transport, hunting, extraction of natural resources, and opening new paths) but no person was found so there were no detentions.

Project location

State of Petén, Guatemala, in three core areas of the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) including Naachtún-Dos Lagunas Protected Biotopo (NDLPB), El Zotz Protected Biotopo (EZPB) and Sierra de Lacandón National Park (SLNP).

Threatened Species/Habitat Type Targeted SPECIES: Baird’s tapir; Tapirus bairdii; HABITAT: Tropical forest

Team Guatemala

B.Sc. Manolo García: PROJECT COORDINATOR (Guatemala)
Biologist Raquel Leonardo: RESEARCH COORDINATOR of Defensores de la Naturaleza Foundation
M.Sc. Fernando Castillo: GIS EXPERT
Forestry engineers Shirley Jerónimo and Juan José Romero: TECHNICIANS
B.Sc. Rebeca Escobar: RESEARCH COORDINATOR at Sierra del Lacandón National Park


Manolo José García Vettorazzi, BSc, Coordinator / Principal Investigator // E-mail address:, // Organisation name: Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala & IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG) // Organisation full mailing address: Avenida Reforma 0-63 Zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala, CP 01010 // Website:,,