Catagonus – Chacoan peccary

Also known as tagua and it is the last existing species of its genus, with only 3000 individuals present today  

Chacoan peccary is a unique and intriguing species native to the Gran Chaco region, a vast and arid area that spans parts of Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Dubbed “pigs from green hell” due to their elusive nature and the dense, thorny vegetation of their habitats, Chacoan peccaries are a testament to the complex interplay between species and their environments in one of South America’s most challenging landscapes.

This peccary species was once considered extinct, known only from fossils until a living population was rediscovered in the 1970s. This rediscovery highlighted not only the resilience of the species but also the vast unexplored biodiversity of the Chacoan region. However, the survival of the Chacoan peccary is under significant threat. The primary drivers of their precarious status are habitat loss and fragmentation due to human encroachment, primarily through deforestation for agriculture, cattle ranching, and illegal hunting.

The natural habitat of the Chacoan peccary is distinctive for its harsh, dry climate, characterized by hot temperatures and sparse water sources. Despite these challenging conditions, these animals have adapted remarkably well. They are social creatures living in groups that help them forage for food, including various plant materials such as cacti, fruits, and roots, as well as provide protection against predators.

Unfortunately, transforming their natural range into large-scale ranches and farmlands for commercial purposes poses a severe threat to their existence. This conversion reduces the available habitat for the Chacoan peccary and isolates populations, making it difficult for them to find mates and leading to genetic bottlenecks. Furthermore, illegal hunting, often for meat or as a perceived threat to crops, exacerbates their decline.

Conservation efforts for the Chacoan peccary are multifaceted, focusing on habitat preservation, anti-poaching measures, and breeding programs. Captive breeding has been initiated as a strategy to bolster the population.