Tapirus terrestris, the lowland or Brazilian tapir, has the widest distribution of the four living species of tapirs. It ranges from Colombia to northern Argentina, and from the foothills of the Andes on the west to the Atlantic Ocean of South America on the east, where it generally inhabits moist forested areas in the South American lowlands.
The lowland tapir is possibly sympatric, or historically sympatric, with populations of the endangered mountain tapir (T. pinchaque) along the eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador and Colombia. It is also potentially sympatric with reputed southern populations of Baird's or Central American tapir (Tapirus bairdii), in northern Colombia, although these distributional data are scanty. The fourth extant tapir species is the Asian or Malayan tapir (T. indicus) which lives in the tropics of southeast Asia. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the New World tapirs are more closely related to one another than they are to the Asian tapir, and that T. terrestris is most closely related to T. pinchaque (Norman and Ashley, 2000).
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