Tayassu pecari was introduced to Cuba in 1930 (Mayer and Wetzel 1987), but is no longer found in the wild there. It is presumed to be extirpated from El Salvador, and its range has been significantly reduced in Mexico, Central America, and South America in the last 20 years (Leopold 1959; Reyna-Hurtado et al. 2009, 2010; Altrichter et al. 2012).
White-lipped peccaries are distributed from southern Mexico south to Ecuador, and from the Entre Rios in Argentina to the Pacific coast of South America (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Tayassu pecari is a medium sized species. They have a pig-like body with a long snout, thick neck, large head, tiny tails and thin, delicate legs. Head and body length ranges from 750 to 1,000 mm, tail length from 15 to 55 mm, shoulder height from 440 to 575 mm, and weight from 25 to 40 kg. Pelage is coarse and covers the entire body. In adults the color is dark brown to black with white areas in the pelvic regions and dorsal side of the neck. The young are distinguishable from adults by their combination of red, brown, black, and cream coat and the white colored legs and undersides of the throat and neck. Adult peccaries have forefeet with two large weight-bearing toes and two smaller toes used only on soft substrates, all toes have hooves. Their hindfeet consist of two large toes and one smaller one. Peccaries have large, sharp canines that form a distinct lump under the lips. Males have longer canines and females have a larger braincase, otherwise males and females are monomorphic (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
Range mass: 25 to 40 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes shaped differently
Habitat and Ecology
A number of radio-telemetry based range size estimates are now available from a diversity of habitats across this species' distribution. In Costa Rica, herds in tropical moist forest were found to have a mean annual home range size of 32.00-37.80 km (100% MCP) (Carrillo et al. 2002). Fragoso (2004) estimated home ranges from 21.80 km to 200.00 km (100% MCP) for groups monitored over three years in moist forest in Maraca Island in Roraima state Brazil. Keuroghlian et al. (2004) estimated an annual herd home range of 29.51 km (100% MCP) in a fragmented semideciduous Atlantic Forest in southern Brazil. Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner (2009b) found annual herd home ranges from 43.60 km to 121.00 km (100%) in tropical semi-dry forest in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Southern Mexico. All home range estimates presented are based on 100% or 95% minimum convex polygons for comparative purposes. Reyna-Hurtado (2007), Carrillo et al. (2002) and Keuroghlian et al. (2004) observed a high level of spatial overlap between subherds and the amount of overlap could vary depending on the season and resources available. The consensus is that white-lipped peccaries are clearly wide-ranging and require large areas for survival (Altrichter and Almeida 2002, Keuroghlian et al. 2004, Reyna-Hurtado 2007). Their movements respond in part to changes in the availability of fruit patches and water sources (Kiltie and Terborgh 1983; Mendez 1970; Sowls 1984; Bodmer 1990; Altrichter et al. 2001; Keuroghlian et al. 2004; Beck 2005; Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner 2009b; Keuroghlian and Eaton 2008a, 2008b, 2009b).
White-lipped Peccary herds often exceed 100 individuals, though groups of as few as five to more than 200 individuals have also been observed (Kiltie and Terborgh 1983, Desbiez 2007, Donkin 1985, Mayer and Brandt 1987, Fragoso 2004, Reyna-Hurtado 2007). In certain seasons in some areas, large herds divide into smaller groups according to the distribution and abundance of food, although the more frequent reporting of smaller groups in some areas is probably correlated with increased hunting pressure (Ditt 2002). Group sizes in hunted areas adjacent to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Mexico were smaller (Median=16, SE=1.84, n=15) than these living inside the reserve where no hunting is allowed (Median=25, SE=1.84 n=9, Reyna-Hurtado 2009a). Keuroghlian et al. 2004 observed that a population of 150 White-lipped Peccaries in a fragmented area of Atlantic Forest periodically divided into 3-4 sub-herds with an average of 42 individuals each. They also observed a high frequency of switching of individuals among sub-herds and documented periodic sub-herd fusion and fission. Switching of individuals has also been observed in a current long term (10 years) radio telemetry study in the Pantanal of Brazil Keuroghlian et al. in prep.) and in Costa Rica (Senz and Carrillo 1999). Biondo et al. 2011 analyzed two different populations 80 km apart in the Pantanal. They found a low degree of genetic differentiation between the locations analyzed, and dispersal by both sexes (contrary to the predicted male-biased dispersal of most mammalian species). In addition, 30% of males and females were predicted to be dispersers, which can indicate high levels of gene flow between the two different herds (Biondo et al. 2011). For this reason, Biondo et al. (2011) stress the need of very large areas to maintain gene flow and genetic diversity between these distant but connected populations, and suggest managing them as a unique population; this requires maintaining ecological corridors, and natural links between herd populations (Biondo et al. 2011).
Tayassu peccari lives in a variety of habitats, including desert scrub, arid woodland, and rain forest. Thickets, limestone caves, and large boulders serve as shelters. Peccaries tend to live close to the place of their birth, and they rarely travel far from a water source.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian
- Mayer, J., R. Wetzel. August 12, 1987. Tayassu pecari. Mammalian Species, 293: 1-7.
White-lipped peccaries consume many different types of food. Their tooth morphology allows them to consume a wide range of food in the tropical forests, however peccaries eat little meat. Peccaries eat fruit, leaves, roots, seeds, mushrooms, worms (Annelida), and insects. Occasionally, they will consume small vertebrates, such as frogs, snakes, lizards, eggs of birds and turtles, and carrion (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: wild: 13.3 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
White-lipped peccaries breed year round, breeding seasons vary among subspecies. However, spring and autumn seem to be the most common time for breeding. Females produce litters that range from 1 to 4 young, usually resulting in twins or occasionally triplets. The birth of just one young is less common. The gestation period varies from 156 to 162 days. Young can run within a few hours and accompany their mother 1 day after birth (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average birth mass: 700 g.
Average gestation period: 158 days.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 548 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 548 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tayassu pecari
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
This species has a wide distributional range and occurs in many protected areas; however, it is rapidly disappearing from fragmented areas and overall it has suffered a major range reduction in its historical distribution. The relative vulnerability of White-lipped Peccaries to local extinction in established conservation units needs to be considered. Extant conservation units in the different ecosystems are not necessarily adequate to ensure the survival of White-lipped Peccaries, and even large protected areas are not enough to guarantee the protection of viable populations. Unfortunately, the future for many of the currently continuous tracts of tropical forest will be similar to what has happened in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. This reduction has been more dramatic for Mesoamerican countries, where it has been extirpated from El Salvador and has been greatly reduced in Costa Rica (89%). Mexico and Guatemala (84%) (Altrichter et al. 2012). In other areas within its range, it is undergoing localized declines due to widespread and increasing deforestation, and intense hunting pressure. According to Altrichter et al. (2012), within 48% of its current range, White-lipped Peccaries have a reduced abundance and a low probability of long-term survival.
- 2008Near Threatened (NT)
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
Populations in some areas are stable. White-lipped peccaries have vanished from areas in Mexico and northern Argentina where they once lived. Peccaries are threatened by hunters and by deforestation. In areas where they seem to be disappearing, only herds of fewer than 10 members remain (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Similarly, Fragoso's (2004) documented a concern for the species in Roraima due to strong evidence of periodic and sometimes permanent White-lipped Peccary population crashes which seem density-dependent and are most likely due to epizootic events. Reported diseases has been documented in free ranging White-lipped Peccary populations (Karesh et al. 1998, Herrera et al. 2008, Freitas et al . 2010). This is a particular cause of concern due to the increasingly fragmented distribution of White-lipped Peccary populations. One risk is that isolated populations that crash may have difficulties recovering since they are cut off from dispersal of potential source population areas.
In November 2010, the IUCN and the Instituto Chico Mendes (ICMBio), the Federal Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, and official assessor of species red listing for the Brazilian Ministry of Environment, signed an agreement to build the Brazilian Red List of Threatened Species. The White-lipped Peccary (which was not included in the previous official Brazilian list of threatened fauna - MMA, 2003), was then classified as Vulnerable in Brazil (A2abcde+A3abcde). In the endangered Cerrado biome, it was classified as Endangered, and the only ungulate that received a Critically Endangered classification for the Atlantic forest Biome (Keuroghlian et al. 2012). This change of status is due to the intensification of threats and most importantly, to the increase of knowledge about the species. According to the workshop participants in Brazil, a population decline of at least 30% in the last 18 years (three generations) is suspected, and an equal population decline is projected for the next 18 years.
Another important result from this regional assessment in Brazil was learning that local extinctions of White-lipped Peccary in pristine areas not only occurred in Brazil, but also in other areas. For example, in French Guiana, Richard-Hansen, Khazraie, Surugue, and Grenand (in prep.) show data that clearly supports the evidence of a population crash during the last 4 years. In Bolivia, White-lipped Peccaries have become locally extinct in areas surrounding a Tsimane village in the Estacin BiolgicaBeni (Roldan and Simonetti 2001). In Ecuador, according to the published Red List (Tirira 2011), White-lipped Peccaries are considered Endangered in the Amazon, and Critically Endangered in the Pacific Coast. In the Ecuadorian Amazon, White-lipped Peccaries have been already extirpated from large areas along the lower slopes of the Andes, and are rapidly disappearing from all parts of their geographic range due to overhunting (and perhaps disease). In the Coast, where large-scale deforestation occurred during the past century, G. Zapata-Ros (pers.comm.) documented only a few small populations remaining in Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and its buffer zone area. Recently, in December 2010, Mexico's National Secretary of Environment also classified the species as endangered (R. Reyna-Hurtado pers. comm.). In the Chaco of Paraguay, the alarming rates of deforestation and continued hunting are a cause for alarm, and although no formal survey has taken place recently, the number of herds as well as the number of individuals in a herd is notably declining (J. Campos pers. comm.).
Both the Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu) and White-lipped Peccary are important resources for subsistence hunters in the Peruvian Amazon, as elsewhere in the Amazon basin (Bodmer et al. 2004a). Bodmer (1995), Peres (1996), and Redford and Robinson (1987) showed that peccaries were a preferred game of native and non-native people in the Amazonian region. In Peru, subsistence hunting of peccaries is permitted and is legally defined as the use of peccary meat for household consumption or the sale of peccary meat in settlements of fewer than 3,000 inhabitants. Rural inhabitants hunt peccaries mainly for their meat, which has an economic value of approximately $23 for a Collared Peccary and $30 for a White-lipped Peccary either for subsistence food or sale (Bodmer et al. 2004b). Peccary pelts are sold as a by-product and have an economic value to hunters of approximately $5 for a Collared Peccary pelt and $3 for a White-lipped Peccary pelt (Bodmer and Pezo 2001, Fang 2003). The only country with CITES permit to export white-lipped peccary pelts for the hide trade is Peru where from 1997 to 2008 a quota of between 35,500 and 44,300 skins and leather products has been granted annually (CITES Database 2008, www.cites.org). The pelts are tanned in Peru and sold to the European leather industry for the manufacture of high quality shoes and gloves, with the latter retailing for as much as $200 a pair. However, this activity should be careful controlled because of potential risks to White-lipped Peccary given that population monitoring methods are problematic. Also, since some pelts are rejected because of scars, parasite marks (e.g., bot flies), or bullet holes, this raises the question as to how many individuals are killed in total to obtain pelts that meet the required quality standards for international trading? Other South American countries such as Argentina and Bolivia, are exploring plans for the international commercialization of peccary pelts under CITES. Detailed surveys of the subsistence and commercial use of this species on national scales have not been undertaken in other South American range countries except Argentina (Altrichter 2005).
At the southern and northern extremes of this species' distribution its status is of particular concern. In the Argentine Chaco, Altrichter (2005) found that hunting of White-lipped Peccary was not sustainable because density of this species was three times lower in areas closer to villages than in protected areas, hunters did not discriminate between age and sex, and more than 40% of the population's production was being harvested. Population size was estimated to be at 60% of the carrying capacity (Altrichter 2005). Threats to the species in Mesoamerica (Tropical Mexico and Central America) include hunting and habitat reduction as well as un-managed legal sport hunting in a couple of Mexican States (Campeche and Quintana Roo, Reyna-Hurtado 2009a). Overall in Mesoamerica this species' situation is alarming due to rapid population decline over the last 20 years. In Mexico this species has been extirpated from Veracruz, Tabasco, Yucatan and survive only in a few populations on the largest reserves and a few large communal forests where the species is under strong hunting pressure (Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner 2007). A similar pattern has occurred for almost all the Central America countries where the species is now confined to the few large tropical forest reserves (Altrichter et al. 2012).
Peccary pelts were exported from many central and South American countries during the first half of the 20th century prior to the implementation of CITES in 1973. During the 1960s and 70s many countries began to prohibit the export of peccary pelts and in 1986 Collared and White-lipped Peccaries were placed on Appendix II of CITES. Peru is currently the only range state that permits legal export of peccary pelts, and hides can only be exported if they originate from subsistence hunters living in the Amazonian region. Other countries, including Bolivia and Argentina, are exploring prospects for developing a managed commercial harvest of peccary hides for export. In the case of Bolivia, peccary pelts would come out of subsistence hunting. Harvesting peccaries just for hides is not in the plans of the region (Pacheco pers. comm.). Such an expanded "legal" harvest will need to be carefully monitored since it risks inadvertently promoting illegal commercial use of the species through expanding the market, and hence demands for skins and other peccary products. A revision of the CITES permit on trade might be necessary with the growing interest of peccary hide trade in other countries.
White-lipped Peccaries are widely maintained in captivity in their countries of origin, but very rarely elsewhere, mainly because of the stringent veterinary restrictions placed on the movement of live animals into countries with significant domestic pork industry.
Research on the management, conservation, ecology, and biology has expanded in recent years. A range wide status assessment on this species has been completed, based on a workshop held in 2005, where historical and current status and distribution data were compared and main threats and population status was determined (Altrichter et al. 2012.).However, research, management and monitoring capacity is lacking in many of the range countries. Capacity building of conservation biologists, local and national government technicians, and community para-technicians is a high priority for the species. There is also a need for a review of national and local government policy and regulations for this species across its range.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
White-lipped peccaries have been known to eat farmers' crops. Crops such as maize, sweet potatoes, manioc, bananas, and sugar cane are frequently eaten (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
White-lipped peccaries are an important source of hide and food for hunters in the area. They offer a large amount of protein for a hunter's diet (Mayer and Wetzel 1987).
The white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), is a hog-like animal[vague] found in Central and South America. It roams in dense, humid, tropical rainforests and can also be found in drier savannas. It lives in herds of 20–300 individuals that on average take up about 120 km2 to fully function. This species is omnivorous, feeding mostly on fruit, and are usually found traveling great distances to obtain it. If this resource is in demand and difficult to find, peccaries will eat leaves, stems, or animal parts. White-lipped peccaries have several unique attributes that allow them to stay with and identify their herd, which is essential for their survival in the wild.
The white-lipped peccary lives to be an average of 13 years old and can give birth to two young at a time. The head and body length ranges from 90–139 cm, the shoulder height is between 40 and 60 cm, the tail length is from 3–6 cm, and the adult weight is 25–40 kg. Their color is generally brown or black. The coat is bristly and has hairs running lengthways down the spine growing longer than the hairs running down the body, making a crest, which stands up when the peccary becomes excited. The peccary has a round body with a long snout that ends in a circular disk where the nasal cavity starts. They have white markings that start below the snout and run to the cheek area just below the eyes.
White-lipped peccaries are omnivores feeding on fruits, nuts, vegetation, and small amounts of animal matter. Their main predators are the jaguar, puma, and potentially boa constrictors. Since the white-lipped peccary relies heavily on fruit, they travel to where the fruit and other essential resources are located. The fruiting season dictates most of their behavior. Fruit is more abundant in primary forests rather than secondary or coastal forests, so their populations are more dense in these regions. Generally, a period of fruit shortage occurs during the end of the wet season, so the consumption of secondary foods, such as leaves, stems, and animal parts, is increased.
Distribution, habitat, and movement
The white-lipped peccary is native to Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. An example ecoregion of occurrence is the Belizean pine forests. The peccary is regionally extinct in El Salvador and Uruguay. They thrive in dense, humid, tropical forests, and can also be found foraging in dry forests and savannas. When these species roam in their range land, they can be very loud, clattering their teeth and grunting to one another to communicate and stay within the herd. They communicate with olfactory, acoustic, and physical contact to keep together in the herd. This is essential when warding off predators such as the jaguar, because it may not attack when 200 peccaries are in a herd.
The white-lipped peccary is a diurnal feeder, and performs all of its activities during the day, more specifically in the mornings and afternoons. They are the only large neotropical mammal found in large herds. These herds can number 20-300, including both males and females, cases have been reported of herds reaching 2000 peccaries. The sex ratio within herds is about 1.4–1.8 females to males. The home range for the peccary is from 60–200 km2 in the Peruvian Amazon. The peccary can spend up to two-thirds of its day traveling and feeding. The range lands of peccaries are massive due to the large number of individuals within the herd. Often, peccaries can be smelled before seen because they give off a skunk-like odor. They are known to be aggressive when cornered or feel threatened. They give off a loud “bark” and show off their teeth in an attempt to avoid conflict.
The white-lipped peccary can breed throughout the year depending on location. The breeding season is extremely variable and consists of two distinct peaks in areas such as Costa Rica, one occurring in February and one in July. Mexico has distinct breeding seasons in April and November. The breeding season follows the fruiting season, so the variability can be consistently different in each different region where they are found. The young stay with the mother, but are weaned by six months old. Sexual maturity is reached between one and two years old.
The two main threats to their survival are deforestation and hunting. Destruction and subdivision of their natural range can have devastating effects on their population. Loss of habitat can lead to exposure for poachers, who can easily kill many peccaries at one time.
The white-lipped peccary is listed as near threatened by the IUCN and listed on Appendix II on CITES.
White-lipped peccaries have a scent gland on their backs, which emits a scent, allowing a strong bond between members of the herd. They are a good indicator of how healthy the forest is because they live in such large herds and in large areas.
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2013)|
- Keuroghlian, A., Desbiez, A., Reyna-Hurtado, R., Altrichter, M., Beck, H., Taber, A. & Fragoso, J.M.V. (2013). "Tayassu pecari". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 3 July 2013. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of near threatened.
- C. Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund. 2012
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