Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about peccaries and tapirs


The study region despite to be highly fragmented are, still has some areas in which native wildlife of big size persist. Today’s post, as well as some post in the following weeks, is about that fauna different from monkeys that is still present in the region in which the study area is located.

Over the years, I had the opportunity to survey some of the biggest forest fragments in the region (500 – 1000 ha). Although immersed in a cattle ranching matrix combined with tertiary roads and perennial crops, as well as palm oil plantations. These forest fragments still have the characteristic mammal fauna typical of more preserved areas, including big mammals such as peccaries and tapirs, as well as their predator’s jaguars and cougars.

In those fragments, it is in some ways common to find tracks and even to see groups of collared peccaries (Tayassu tajacu) when they are present in those fragments. Observations of small groups and solitary individuals have also been done in fragments around 100 ha in the area, but with less frequency.

Rarer are the observations of white-lipped peccary (Tayassu peccari) in the area, although there are still present and in the past, they use to reach the town park. Last time a group of white-lipped peccaries was observed in town was 10 years ago, according to some local people. However, in the largest fragments, herds of white-lipped peccaries had been reported by locals the last year. Both are still hunted in the region and their meet is highly appreciated by locals.

Landowners in the region have problems with illegal hunting for the town’s market although it is illegal as it is not a subsistence practice. Information from local people suggest that a kilogram of peccary’s or tapir’s meat in the illegal market can cost around USD 11.5 in 2014. Today, probably that price had increased substantially due to the long-distance and time needed to hunt these species in the area.

Also, it is still possible to see tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in the region, especially tracks and footprints more than observe them. Most of the observations in the region have been done in forest fragments of more than 500 ha surrounded by savannas, with some observations were done in the savannas near to watercourses. Swamp areas inside of big forest fragments are the areas where most observations have been done in the area, as well as close to the main streams in the region. Observations in small fragments are rare, probably because of hunting.

Unamas Enero 2011 150Dantamodif

Most observations of collared peccaries lasted just a few minutes, depending on how fast they perceived my presence. However, I had the opportunity to see groups as bigger as 15 individuals, including several females, a few males, and some young individuals. No threatened behaviors towards the observer has been observed on all those encounters, even when the peccaries’ herd had small individuals. Mostly once they perceived my presence, the whole group just scape, running sometimes in opposite directions. Sometimes it is possible to observe some individuals coming back to follow the rest of the group after the initial encounter.

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