|Scientific Name:||Catagonus wagneri|
|Species Authority:||(Rusconi, 1930)|
|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).|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Endangered A3cd+4cd ver 3.1|
|Assessor(s):||Altrichter, M., Taber, A., Noss, A. & Maffei, L.|
|Reviewer(s):||Leus, K. & Oliver, W. ( Pig, Peccary & Hippo Red List Authority)|
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.
|Range Description:||The Chacoan peccary is endemic to the dry Chaco of western Paraguay, south-eastern 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 peccaries occurs in Chaco, Formosa, Salta and Santiago del Estero Provinces. C. wagneri persists in the Bolivian dry Chaco in the departments of Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, and Tarija (Maffei et al., submitted)|
Native:Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Paraguay
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|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 (Maffei pers. comm.) and in the eastern Paraguayan Chaco (Neris et al. 2002). The total population size is unknown, but probably several thousand persist in the dry Chaco of Argentina and Bolivia and an estimated 5,000 individuals were estimated to survive in Paraguay in the early 1990’s (Taber 1993). Using estimates of density and remaining habitat for Catagonus in Argentina, M. Altricher (pers. comm.) 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 a recent study conducted in the Argentine Chaco, Altrichter and Boaglio (2004) found Chacoan peccary to be the rarest of the three species found in the area as well as being probably the most vulnerable to human disturbance.|
|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 sp. and Acacia sp.; 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/sq mi) (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 1 to 4 (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 (<3 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 10 years and 6 months. Gestation time in captivity has been found to be 151 days (Proyecto Tagua, San Diego Zoo).
|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.|
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. Habitat destruction is 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 Chaco has been estimated by some authorities as being as much as 1,500 km² annually (Sanjuro pers. comm.). 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: 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 40% habitat loss over a given 18 year period (3 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. This is putting tremendous pressure on remaining forest habitat.
Paraguay: One source reported that 45% of the dry forest was cut or selectively degraded by 1990. Since that time, approximately half of the area that had the largest Catagonus population existed in 1990 has now gone (A. Taber pers. comm.). The pressures of the habitat are not abating, and are probably increasing, particularly in the prime Catagonus habitat in Central Chaco (A. Taber pers. comm.). 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.
Bolivia: This situation is less clear in this country. The Kaa-Iya National Park in the north of the range probably stabilises the situation there. It is suspected that the conditions in the dry Chaco in Chuquisaca and Tarija are likely to be similar to those in the Argentine Chaco with increasingly extensive agriculture.
Based on the above observations, it is believed that an estimated present and future 50% loss of Chacoan peccary habitat over a three-generation time period (18 years) is defensible. Also, hunting pressures have probably not abated, further increasing the likelihood of such a rate of decline.
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). 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).
|Citation:||Altrichter, M., Taber, A., Noss, A. & Maffei, L. 2008. Catagonus wagneri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 July 2014.|
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