Photo courtesy of www.metaphoricalplatypus.com
The White-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), native to Central and South America, live in humid forests and are omnivorous; primarily feeding on fruits, grasses and invertebrates. This particular species of peccary are myopic, causing them to aggressively charge at anything that stumbles into a large unaware group.
This species is currently categorised as near threatened on the Red List of Threatened Species, drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The decline in their population is due to increased deforestation and intense hunting for their meat. These activities have caused these large pigs to practically disappear from vast areas of Central America. It is estimated that habitat loss across the species range is decreasing, roughly by 1% each year.
These social peccary have increasingly been sighted by Osa Conservation, Costa Rica. This is very exciting news as White-lipped peccary are an important indicator species of a healthy rainforest as they travel in large herds that require extensive areas of forest. The increased number of sightings of this peccary species also provides positive impacts on other areas of the rainforest; White-lipped peccary have large, heavy hooves which trample and overturn the soil on the rainforest floor, allowing new germination of saplings, and in time will increase the forest’s tree diversity. There is also a chance that Osa will see an increase in big cat populations like Puma and Jaguar as these species rely on White-lipped peccary as one of their main food sources.
It is illegal to hunt Peccary species; however hunting is still widespread and popular. The next steps to help increase the white-lipped peccary is to clamp down on hunting laws, to further increase reforestation so that larger herds can thrive and to connect these suitable habitats together.
By Laura Ireson