The white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) is a classic example of an ecological engineer. They change the forest floor by trampling in huge herds of 20-300 individuals, a unique phenomenon in the Amazon. The changes they illicit in the forest create new niches that help maintain the variety of wildlife, including plants, amphibians, and reptiles, while dispersing seeds throughout the landscape. Additionally, white-lipped peccaries are important prey for jaguars, and other larger animals, including humans!
Due to the impressive size of white-lipped peccary herds, this species needs an extensive ecosystem to support them. This makes them particularly vulnerable to deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Our landscape work considers these necessities whilst supporting the planning of conservation actions.
We began researching white-lipped peccaries in 1980 and since, our commitment to conserve this species has been long-standing. In 2008, we carried out a Range Wide Planning Exercise for the white-lipped peccary at a regional level, bringing together experts and conservationists to plan future actions together. In Peru, we work with sustainable community hunting in the Yavarí-Samiria landscape, and we support partner FundAmazonia in peccary pelt certification in various Loreto communities. We promote the sustainable management of white-lipped peccary populations through an ecosystem focus and a diversification of community livelihoods.
10 facts about the white-lipped peccary::
- Also known as “pig of the jungle,” the white-lipped peccary is recognized by its brown or black fur and its white patch (or “lip”) around its snout.
- Its categorized as Vulnerable by IUCN and included in Appendix II of CITES.
- In Peru, it’s categorized as Near Threatened through the directive, DS 004-2014-MINAGRI.
- The white-lipped peccary is 55 cm tall, on average, and can be 1 m long and weigh almost 50 kg.
- In Peru, the exportation of its pelts is permitted as long as its a byproduct of subsistence hunting. The commercialization quota is approximately 34,000 pelts per year.
- The white-lipped peccary’s relatives are domestic pigs and european wild boars. In the Amazonian species, its closest relative is the collared peccary. It can be identified by the white fur around its neck, and the fact that it travels in herds much smaller than white-lipped peccaries.
- This species can be recognized by its strong unique odor that it uses to mark its territory by rubbing against trees and rocks. The odor increases when its alert or scared.
- It has been associated with aggressive behavior, but its usually due to the loud noises its emits.
- It’s omnivorous, feeding itself with fruits, roots, and nuts, as well as invertebrates.
- It is recognized as an important seed disperser in the Amazonian forest.
Top photo: Walter H. Wust