- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the white-lipped peccary.
White-lipped peccaries (Tayassu Pecari) are known as the “pigs of the jungle.” They are recognized by their distinctive white patch or “lip” around their snout. White-lipped peccaries roam the forests of Central and South America in herds of 20 to 300 individuals. Anecdotal reports of groups of 2,000 individuals have even been recorded! Due to the large number of peccaries in a herd, they have to travel over a large range of land to find food, sometimes more than 10 km in a day. The white-lipped peccary is a classic example of an ecological engineer. First, they create and maintain wallows which create new habitats for other species. Second, as they travel over large areas they spread seeds throughout the landscape, and then with their trampling, they break the crust of the soil and help plant the seeds. And third, they also mulch the soil surface with trampled vegetation helping fertilize the landscape.
White-lipped peccaries are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Their two main threats are hunting and deforestation. In some Central American countries, populations have already become locally extinct. Effective conservation measures to prevent overexploitation are needed, and as they require large areas of forest to survive, it is important to ensure the protection of their habitat. Watch the video to learn more about this species!
Special thanks to San Miguelito Jaguar Conservation Ranch for sharing the camera trap footage with us! And don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel and hit the bell icon to make sure you never miss an episode of Candid Animal Cam!
Review questions for educators
- What do peccaries use their scent glands for?
- Why are peccaries considered “ecosystem engineers”?
- What are some indications humans can use to tell peccaries are nearby?
Banner photo: a screenshot of San Miguelito’s camera trap footage