Rapid decline of White-lipped Peccary populations in Mesoamerica


The white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) is a social ungulate that forms groups of 10 to 300 individuals and travels long distances in well-preserved Neotropical forests. White-lipped peccaries are particularly sensitive to forest fragmentation and hunting pressure and frequently are the first large mammal species to disappear when humans colonize an area. For these reasons, they have become the most endangered ungulate in Mesoamerica. In order to assess and draw attention to reported widespread declines across the region we held a symposium to estimate the current population status and identify the main threats to the conservation of the white-lipped peccary across Mesoamerica. We brought together experts from the 7 countries of Mesoamerica where white-lipped peccaries exist to discuss the status, threats and priority conservation actions for each country. Results indicate that the species has been eliminated from 87% of its historical range, and is in critical shape in all 7 countries, with stable and large populations only remaining in the tri-national (Guatemala, México and Belize) Maya Forest, and in El Darien in Panama. All other populations are either significantly smaller or highly threatened and becoming fragmented and isolated at an alarming pace. Based upon this expansive review conducted by experts across the region, we recommend that the species be uplisted to Endangered at the level of Mesoamerica on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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