Características químicas de salados y hábitos alimenticios de la danta de montaña (Tapirus pinchaque Roulin, 1829) en los Andes centrales de Colombia


Chemical characteristics of salt licks and feeding habits of mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) in the central Andes of Colombia. The chemical composition of salt licks and the diet of the mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) were studied in the upper montane rain forests (2900–3700 m), in the Parque Regional Natural Ucumari and Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, Colombia. We collected water samples from the salt licks, 28 feces and voucher specimens of plants with tapir browsing sign. The chemical analysis of the water from salt licks showed higher concentrations of Na, N-NH4 y N-NO3 when compared to the water of a nearby stream used as control. The nitrogen of the water at the salt lick is probably being fixed by Nostoc, a Cyanobacteria associated with Gunnera manicata and G. magnifolia, two plants located in the upper part of the rocky cliff from where the water drains to the salt lick. It is likely that the tapirs are drinking these waters to complement their diet, especially in an environment like tropical montane forests where nitrogen is in low concentration. A total of 35 plant species showed browsing signs. The plant families that the tapir consumed the most were ferns (seven species), Melastomataceae (six species) and Rubiaceae (five species). In the feces there were mostly leaves and twigs and no fruits or seeds. Germination experiments should be carried out to determine if the mountain tapir is a seed dispersal as suggested in Ecuador.