Not many are aware that there are animals called white-lipped peccaries roaming in herds across the Amazon forests lying between South and Central America. The animals look like pigs but they play an important role in promoting ecological life in the Amazon. .
White-lipped peccaries, which go by the scientific name,Tayassu pecari are pig-like animals easily recognizable for the peculiar uniform white patch marking their snouts. They are categorized as peccaries because they belong to the Tayassuidae family, hich has the distinction of having three toes on their hind foot instead of four, like the pigs of the family Suidae. Still, the white lipped peccaries are called the “pigs of the jungle”.
It is not unusual to see a large herd of white-lipped peccaries numbering from as few as 20 to as many as 300 roaming the Amazon forests in search of food. According to unconfirmed reports, as many 2,000 white-lipped peccaries have been spotted traveling more than 10 kilometres just to search for food. Presumably, several herds must have combined as different groups traveled across the Amazon forests.
White-Lipped Peccaries Are Facing High Risks of Extinction
Unfortunately, their very abundance made them the right target for natives who also hunt for food..In studies conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN ), their findings caused them to include the white-lippied peccaries in the IUCN red list of threatened species. The hunting records of 5 communities in the Tacana Indigenous areas show that this breed of peccaries provided the largest portions of meat when compared to other hunted species.
Additionally, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) revealed the same findings based on the yearly surveys from 2000 to 2006 of the Tuichi, Quendeque, Hondo, Undumo, Heath, Tequeje, and Alto Madidi settlement areas. However, the threatened existence of white-lipped peccaries is aggravated by the deforestation programs and wildfires that have been taking place for years in the Amazon.
In light of their significant role as ecological engineers, it is important that measures must be taken to prevent overexploitation while in the midst of environmental threats posed by climate change.
The Ecological Engineers of the Amazon
Ecological engineers are animals or organisms that are significant to the ecology as they either create, maintain, or destroy habitats. White-lipped peccaries are standard examples of ecological engineers as they generate new habitats for species to live by creating and maintaining wallows. As they travel across huge areas, they trample on plants and disperse the seeds across all places through which they travel. Their trampling actions also break the soil’s crust and at the same time, fertilizes the soil through mulching.