EDGE mammal number 67 the Chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri) is today’s IUCN Species of the day!
The Chacoan peccary is a large pig-like mammal with a long, flexible snout and grey-brown bristly fur. Its family, Tayassuidae, diverged from its pig ancestors 35 millions years ago and there are just three living genera including the Chacoan peccary.
Found in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina this animal spends most of its time looking for food such as fleshy plants, seeds and fruits. Well adapted to the hot dry environments of the thorn forests in which they live, the Chacoan peccary rests during the hottest part of the day making use of shade, dust or mud wallows to keep cool. A social species, these animals live in groups of 2-10 individuals.
The total population size of the Chacoan peccary is unknown, with the last survey conducted over 10 years ago estimating 5,000 individuals in Paraguay. However, overall the population is declining in size. They are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The main threats posed to the Chacoan peccary are hunting and habitat loss and fragmentation due to the use of land for cattle. Current conservation measures include action plans that have been written for each of the three countries in which this species is found and attempts at captive breeding that have had limited success. Establishments of reserves where Chacoan peccary populations can be found as well as enforcement of legislation that bans hunting have been proposed as future conservation measures.
Work with this species has involved surveys of peccary distribution and the threats that affect them in the Chaco region as well as workshops and publications of educational material that aids training in conservation, ecology and social issues with a particular emphasis on peccaries as they are endangered in this region. This work has been carried out by Silvia Chalukian, Marinana Altrichter and Gabriel Boaglio. You can find out more about the EDGE community and the people who are part of it here.