Catagonus wagneri

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA TAYASSUIDAE

Scientific Name: Catagonus wagneri
Species Authority: (Rusconi, 1930)
Common Name(s):
English Chacoan Peccary, Tagua
French Pécari Du Chaco
Spanish Chaco Argentino, Quimilero
Taxonomic Notes: This species was originally described from pre-Hispanic and subfossil remains. It was subsequently discovered alive (Wetzel et al. 1975; Wetzel 1977a, b, 1981).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2011-08-26
Assessor(s): Altrichter, M., Taber, A., Noss, A., Maffei, L. & Campos, J.
Reviewer(s): Pacheco, L. & Rumiz, D.I.
Justification:
Listed as Endangered because of a serious population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over three generations in the present and the future, inferred from observed shrinkage in available habitat, and from over-hunting.
History:
2008 Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Chacoan Peccary is endemic to the dry Chaco of western Paraguay, southeastern Bolivia and northern Argentina (Redford and Eisenberg 1992, Sowls 1984, Taber 1993). It has a total geographical range of approximately 140,000 km2 (Sowls 1984). In Paraguay, the species formerly occurred in all departments of the Chaco. In Argentina, Chacoan peccary occurs in Chaco, Formosa, Salta and Santiago del Estero Provinces. In Bolivia, it persists in the dry Chaco in the departments of Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, and Tarija (Maffei et al. 2008).
Countries:
Native:
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Paraguay
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Populations are fragmented within its limited geographical range and numbers of Chacoan Peccary are declining. The species has disappeared from large areas of the Argentine Chaco where its original range has been reduced by approximately 40% (Altrichter and Boaglio 2004, Altrichter 2006). Its range has also been reduced in Bolivia (L. Maffei pers. comm.) and in the eastern Paraguayan Chaco (Neris et al. 2002). The total population size is unknown, but a population of 5,000 individuals was estimated to survive in Paraguay in the early 1990s (Taber 1993). Using estimates of density and remaining habitat for Catagonus in Argentina, M. Altrichter (pers. obs.) estimated a population of 3,200 individuals in 2002. This was before the massive deforestation of the region for soy bean and cattle ranching started in 2003. In another study conducted in the Argentine Chaco, Altrichter and Boaglio (2004) found Chacoan Peccary to be the rarest of the three species of peccaries living in the area as well as being probably the most vulnerable to human disturbance.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Chacoan Peccary occurs in areas of low rainfall and high temperature and is restricted to the driest parts of the Gran Chaco biome (Sowls 1984, 1997). The prime habitat for the species is xerophytic thorn forest characterized by emergent trees, such as Schinopsis lorentzii and Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco; a dense shrub layer including Ruprechtia triflora, Caparis spp. and Acacia spp.; and a ground cover of bromeliads and cactii, such as Opuntia sp., Cleistocactus baumannii and Eriocereus guelichii (Mayer and Brandt 1982). Chacoan Peccaries are also found at lower density in open woodland, characterized by trees such as Tabebuia caraiba and Schinopsis balansae (Taber et al. 1993). Cactii, including Cleistocactus, Eriocereus, Quiabentia and at least two species of Opuntia, constitute the principal food of Chacoan Peccaries. They also forage on the roots of bromeliads, fruit from various species of Acacia and Prosopis, and occasionally browse on forbs (Mayer and Brandt 1982, Taber et al. 1993). Chacoan Peccaries lick and eat mineral rich soil from naturally occurring salt licks and leaf-cutter ant mounds. They also consume carrion on occasion and may even prey on small mammals.

Like the Collared Peccary, they are territorial and their home range sizes, based on convex polygons, measure about 1,100 ha and contain a core area of about 600 ha in the Paraguayan Chaco (Taber et al. 1993). Density estimates vary from less than 1 individual/km2 to as high as 9.2 individuals/km2 (Mayer and Brandt 1982). A study in the Paraguayan Chaco produced a density estimate of 0.43 individuals/ km2 (1.1 individuals/square mile) (Taber 1991). In the Argentine Chaco the density varied between 0.17 individuals/ km2 in hunted sites to 0.44 individuals/ km2 in non-hunted sites (Altrichter 2005).

Chacoan Peccaries are diurnal and become active about sunrise, are active throughout the day and become inactive at dusk (Taber 1991). Reports of herd sizes in the Paraguayan Chaco vary between one and nine (Mayer and Brandt 1982, Sowls 1997), with an average of 4.5 (Taber et al. 1993). However, in hunted areas, average group sizes are smaller ranging from one to four (Taber et al. 1993, Mayer and Brandt 1982, Altrichter and Boaglio 2004).

A slightly biased sex ratio in favour of males has been reported by Mayer and Brandt (1982) and Sowls (1984). Captive females in Paraguay (Proyecto Taguá, San Diego Zoo) gave birth between 1.2 and 8.3 years of age; younger females (under three years old) usually had smaller litters than older females. They have one litter a year. Litter sizes in Paraguay have been reported to vary between one and four with averages of 2.72 (Mayer and Brandt 1982, Brooks 1992, Yahnke et al. 1997). Taber et al. (1993) estimated litter size of 1.7 for a wild population and presumed that this small litter size resulted from low reproductive rate or high neonate mortality. The farrowing season extends from September through January. Maximum longevity is unknown, but Sowls (1984) estimated the age of some individuals, based on tooth cementum layers, as at least nine years. In captivity, animals have reached 18 years (Proyecto Taguá, Fortín Toledo, Paraguay). Gestation time in captivity has been found to be 151 days (Proyecto Tagua, San Diego Zoo).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted mainly for food. There is some trade in its skin, but its hide is not valuable compared with the other peccary species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The decline in the range and numbers of Chacoan Peccaries is probably due to a combination of factors. These factors include hunting by humans, habitat destruction, and disease with predation by large felids also a contributor (Taber 1989, 1991, 1993; Altrichter and Boaglio 2004; Altrichter 2005). Of these, hunting pressure undoubtedly has the most negative impact on these animals. All peccary species in the Chaco in all three countries are vigorously hunted wherever they occur, even in national parks and reserve areas. Sowls (1984, 1997) has stated that the Chacoan Peccary constituted one of the most important sources of bush meat in the areas where they were previously abundant. Chacoan Peccary hides are thinner and much less valuable than those of the other peccary species. Fur buyers in Paraguay in 1988, for example, purchased Catagonus skins from settlers for about US$ 0.5 each compared to about US$ 8.0 for those of Pecari tajacu and US$ 5.0 for Tayassu pecari (Taber 1991). However, they still have been hunted and traded commercially. More recently, habitat destruction has become a major threat to this species. Although large tracts of intact bush survive, the rate of clearance for agriculture and cattle pasture in the Paraguayan and Argentinean Chaco is extremely high (Pearce 2011, Guyra Paraguay 2013). A study in the Argentine Chaco found that Chacoan Peccaries disappear when forest cover is reduced to less than 87% of the original cover (Altrichter and Boaglio 2004).

Estimated rates of decline are given below:

Argentina: from 1972 to 2001, 588,900 ha (c. 20% of the forests) was deforested at a rate of 2.2% a year. Assuming this rate has continued, and will continue, this implies a 33% habitat loss over a given 15 year period (three Catagonus generations). However, these total deforestation rates hide the impact of habitat degradation, which impacts virtually the whole area. Also, there are good reasons to believe that deforestation has greatly accelerated in the Argentine Chaco. The ongoing soy/commodity boom is having major impacts: e.g., over the last 10 years in the Chaco and Santiago del Estero provinces, soy cropland has grown from 284,000 ha to 1,513,000 ha. Some of this replaced smaller scale cotton cultivation, but most of this is new agro industrial expansions (Paolasso et al. 2012, Goldfarb and Zoomers 2013). This is putting tremendous pressure on remaining forest habitat.

Paraguay: a recent publication reports an estimated loss of about 8600 Km2 corresponding to 6.4% of the Dry Chaco forest from 1990 to 2000 (Huang et al. 2009). At present, most of previously isolated forest areas of the Chaco are undergoing land modification with estimates of 5 km2 being cleared daily (Huang et al. 2009). The pressures of the habitat are definitively increasing, particularly in the prime Catagonus habitat in Central Chaco (A. Taber pers. comm., Guyra Paraguay 2013). The species probably only hangs on in the fringes of this area, as the far west is too dry for the species, and the east too wet. Proposals for major irrigation schemes from the Paraguay River which would further expand deforestation in the Central Chaco, and allow limited expansion to areas further west, are being discussed. Also, dryland-adapted transgenic crops (especially soy bean) are allowing more land to be put under extensive agriculture, further encroaching on the species in its prime habitat (Pearce 2011).

Bolivia: the situation is less critical in this country. The Kaa-Iya National Park in the north of the range provides the largest stronghold for the species and it is suspected that the dry Chaco in Chuquisaca and Tarija is in relatively good conservation status with low expansion of large-scale agriculture and ranching. However, the Chaco forest around Kaa Iya is being lost to new developments and subsistence hunting pressure is high. The species is considered as Endangered by the Red Book (Tarifa and Aguirre 2009).

Based on the above observations, an estimated present and future 50% loss of Chacoan peccary habitat over a three-generation time period (15 years) is expected. Also, hunting pressures have not abated, further increasing the likelihood of such a rate of decline.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is included on Appendix I of CITES. Hunting of all wildlife in Paraguay is officially prohibited. The species is also officially protected in Argentina, where its exportation, interprovincial traffic and commercial exploitation is illegal. Even so, the Chacoan Peccary is heavily hunted for its meat everywhere it occurs and existing regulations prohibiting its hunting are ignored and unenforced (Taber 1993, Altrichter 2005). There are only two national parks within this species' range in Paraguay, the Defensores del Chaco (7,800 km2) and Teniente Enciso (400 km2). In Bolivia this species occurs in and around the huge Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Area (34,400 km2) and it may be present in the west part of Otuquis National Park. In Argentina, the only protected areas containing Chacoan Peccaries are Copo National Park (1,140 km2), in Santiago del Estero province, and other small provincial reserves.

The species has proved difficult to establish in captivity. In 1985, the Chacoan Peccary was adopted for a Species Survival Plan (SSP) under the aegis of the Conservation Management Committee of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. The following year, a captive breeding station was established at Estancia Toledo, near Filadelfia, in the central Paraguayan Chaco, with funding from the Foundation for Endangered Animals, the Zoological Society of San Diego, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Of the total of 44 wild caught adult and juvenile animals obtained for 'Proyecto Tagua' 31 died in captivity (Byrd et al. 1988, Benirschke et al. 1990, Unger 1992, Brooks pers. comm.). However, by 1992 the herd had grown to 44 animals the majority of which were born in captivity. In 1996 a mixed group of 10 animals were imported into the United States from the Paraguayan colony.

Priority conservation actions recommended for this species are: upgrade and expand the existing protected areas system within the dry Chaco of Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia; expand the private reserve system in the Chaco; establish an effective hunting ban on the species; develop an environmental education program; strengthen wildlife services in all three Chaco countries; improve and extend captive breeding initiatives; assess the feasibility of translocating wild caught peccaries into the national parks or other reserves from areas where the natural habitat is being destroyed; and conduct further research on various aspects of the Chacoan Peccary's reproductive biology, behavior, ecology, range wide status, and future management needs both in the wild and in captivity (Taber 1993).

Bibliography [top]

Altrichter, M. 2005. The sustainability of subsistence hunting of peccaries in the Argentine Chaco. Biological Conservation 126: 351–362.

Altrichter, M. 2006. Interacciones entre la gente y la fauna en el Chaco Argentino. Secretaria de ambiente y desarrollo sostenible, Wildlife Trust, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Altrichter, M. and Boaglio, G.I. 2004. Distribution and relative abundance of peccaries in the Argentine Chaco: associations with human factors. Biological Conservation 116: 217-225.

Benirschke, K.B., Byrd, M.L. and Meritt, D. 1990. New observations on the Chacoan peccary, Catagonus wagneri. Krakow Meeting of Zoo Pathologists: 5 pp..

Brooks, D.M. 1992. Reproductive behaviour and development of the young of the chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri Rusconi, 1930), in the Paraguayan Chaco. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 57: 316–317.

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Taber, A.B., Doncaster, C.P., Neris, N.N. and Colman, F. 1994. Ranging behaviour and activity patterns of two sympatric peccaries, Catagonus wagneri and Tayassu tajacu, in the Paraguayan Chaco. Mammalia 58: 61-71.

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Citation: Altrichter, M., Taber, A., Noss, A., Maffei, L. & Campos, J. 2014. Catagonus wagneri. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 December 2014.
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