Thirsty tapirs—and other vital wildlife—now have a new place to drink The Central American tapir is somewhat of a curious specimen with a body resembling a pig and an elongated snout that approximates an anteater. Around since the Eocene—a period dating back 55 million years—the species is essentially a living fossil, much like the rhinoceros and horse to which it is related. Yet despite surviving multiple waves of extinction, the tapir faces a new and grave threat: the climate crisis . In Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the northernmost part of the Central American tapir’s range, changing rain patterns and prolonged periods of drought have depleted the freshwater reserves necessary to the animal’s survival. The freshwater situation here is unique. The soil consists of dissolved bedrock, so no rivers or lakes exist. The only available water sources come in the form of small, shallow lagoons, known locally as aguadas, and small holes in the rocks where water is naturally stored, called sartenejas —both fed by rainwater. And when rains become erratic, at least in part because of the human-caused climate crisis, these water stores don’t capture enough rain to sustain themselves through the dry season. And as a result, tapirs and […]

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