EDGE Community


Project information

[Project name/title]
Design, application and evaluation of actions for conserving the last Chacoan peccaries


[Project description/overview]

Chacoan peccaries have a restricted distribution, inhabiting a portion of the Dry Chaco. The species is seriously endangered given the accelerated habitat loss in the region, the unsustainable hunting of the species and the lack of knowledge about its ecological requirements and the methods we can use to research and monitor its status.

Looking to ensure the long-term persistence of the Chacoan peccary, the purpose of our project is to improve the knowledge of the species and stregthen local capacities for grass-roots conservation actions for its future survival.

To accomplish these objectives we will find the best monitoring method for the species, evaluating and comparing different monitoring methodologies: a locally based monitoring system, transects and camera-traps. We will also develop a local communication, education and awareness program; where scientists and local inhabitants will actively participate in diseminating information about the Chacoan peccary



Location:
Semiarid Argentinean Chaco, North of Argentina including parts of Chaco, Formosa and Salta Provinces. Formosa limits with Paraguay and Salta with Bolivia

Project type:
Conservation

Relevant EDGE species:
Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri)

Project members:




Relevant species
72. Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri) EN

A pig-like mammal known only from fossils until discovered alive in the 1970s.

[Relevance description]

The Chacoan peccary is a seriously endangered species, with a unique evolutionary history. It inhabits a restricted portion of the Dry Chaco, and has special adaptations to this harsh environment. The species has received almost no conservation or research attention although measures for its preservation are urgent

Species background

The Chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri) is an endemic species of the dry Chaco, it occupies territories of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina and its entire geographical range is around 140,000 km2 (Redford and Eisenberg 1992, Sowls 1984, Taber 1993). Areas occupied by the species present low rainfall and high temperatures; although habitats are heterogeneous in this territory Chacoan peccary is usually found in xerophytic thorn forest (Mayer and Brandt 1982) and, in lower densities in open woodland (Taber et al. 1993). Their diet includes different cacti species; they also use bromeliad roots (Mayer and Brandt 1982, Taber et al. 1993).

Chacoan peccary populations are fragmented and declining, the species is categorizedas  Endangered by the IUCN (Altrichter et al 2014). The species has disappeared from large areas of its original distribution range (Altrichter and Boaglio 2004, Altrichter 2006, Neris et al. 2002). These declines are considered the consequence of a combination of factors, which include hunting, habitat destruction and disease (Taber 1989, 1991, 1993; Altrichter and Boaglio 2004; Altrichter 2005). Hunting for subsistence is combined with commercial hunting in certain areas of the species' distribution (Taber 1991).

In the Argentinean Chaco commercial hunting does not occur, and the species' main threats are the combination of subsistence hunting with habitat destruction, fragmentation or modification. Although large continuous habitat surfaces remain in the Argentinean Chaco the rate of habitat deforestation for agriculture and cattle pasture is extremely high (Pearce 2011, Morello and Rodriguez 2009).

The species is officially protected in Paraguay and Argentina but laws and regulations are ignored and unenforced (Taber 1993, Altrichter 2005), the territory has a harsh environment where controls are difficult and with only a small surface declared protected.

The IUCN SSC Peccary Specialist Group´s priority conservation actions for the Chacoan peccary include decreasing the hunting pressure on the species and developing an environmental education program (Altrichter et al. 2014).

The Chacoan peccary, although seriously threatened and a one-of-a-kind species, has recieved no conservation or research attention in Argentina since 2004 (Altricher and Boaglio 2004). Given the Chacoan peccary´s critical situation, actions for its conservation are urgent. Considering that the species' main threats are local hunting and habitat degradation, and that enforcement of regulations is absent, grass-roots conservation actions involving local communities and organizations are essential for its survival.

This project implements concrete conservation actions that will strengthen local capacities and include local inhabitants while respecting their own cultures. It is based on previous successful experiences from Bolivia (Noss and Painter 2004) and will be developed in the core of the species' distribution. This has never been tried in Argentina, and would be the first time campesinos participate in these type of initiatives.

The Chacoan peccary´s survival cannot rely on the few existing protected areas, which are deficient in regulation enforcement. For this reason, I want to develop innovative strategies and conservation tools based on sound research. Local inhabitants, organizations, communities and institutions have to be included since conservation has to be grass-rooted to succeed in this territory.

After this project, local inhabitants will be more aware of the importance of the Chacoan peccary´s conservation, its uniqueness and the close relation between its presence and their cultures, and hopefully many of them will take ownership of the species' persistence. Additionally, monitoring systems will be functioning enabling the impact of conservation actions to be measured. Local species conservation promoters will be trained, and awareness and educational programs focused on Chacoan peccary preservation will be applied, evaluated and continue to function after the project is over. This will be the first time local people will have the opportunity to design educational material. Because of the low level of literacy in the region, most documents coming from outside are foreign to them as they are not produced with this audience in mind (poor, isolated, many illiterate). Evaluation of these conservation actions and the challenges and feasibility of expanding them along a larger area will show if this is the correct direction for conserving the species or if other strategies should be developed.

Conservation benefits of the project exceed local boundaries: the project area is close to Bolivia and Paraguay and benefiting the species in Argentina, given meta-population dynamics, will benefit populations in neighbouring countries too. All these actions are urgent and will be developed in coordination with local and national institutions, with the objective to make changes that sustain over time. This project is part of a network of conservation efforts.

 
Aims

The aim of this project is to build and strengthen local capacities for the development of grass-roots conservation actions that ensure the long-term persistence of the Chacoan pecary, the Chaco region and its biodiversity. This will be accomplished by gathering and disseminating information on the species with active participation of local inhabitants, respecting their cultures and incorporating their perceptions and opinions in proposed actions. With this project I expect to build a local framework for the conservation of the Chacoan pecari, monitor its populations and motivate local inhabitants to commit to the species preservation to ensure its persistence over time.

 
Objectives

General Objectives:

i. To design, apply and evaluate actions for Chacoan pecary's conservation

ii. To strengthen and build local capacities

iii. To raise awareness on the Chacoan peccary's critical state and uniqueness.

 

Particular Objectives:

1. Find and apply an efficient monitoring system for measure the Chacoan peccary's status and population trends

1.1 Implement a new locally based monitoring system (LBMS) in a pilot area

1.2 Maintain an existing LBMS (developed in 2011 and still functioning)

1.3 Implement two monitoring systems, one with camera-traps and another with transects, placed and walked by the researcher in sites where LBMSs are applied

1.4 Compare methodologies´ capacity to detect Chacoan peccary and monitor its populations

 

2. Implement a locally-based educational and awareness program focused on the Chacoan peccary and its habitat

2.1 Locally generate material for education

2.2 Use generated material with teachers and students in a pilot site

2.3 Implement a pilot awareness programme developed by trained promoters

 

3. Evaluate these actions´ costs (economic, time and human-effort) and capacity to: (i) change local perceptions and attitudes towards the Chacoan peccary and its conservation, and (ii) increase local organizational capacities.

 
Donors

National Employment and Social Service Department

National Research Council