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New species of 'Giant peccary' discovered in Brazil

18/10/2006 00:00:00 October 2007. A new species of peccary has been discovered in the Amazon. Until recently it was thought that there were only three species of peccary, the collared, the white-lipped and the Chacoan peccary. (The Chacoan peccary was thought to be extinct but a population was discovered in 1974 in the Chaco region of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.)
New giant peccary, discovered in Brazil. © Marc van Roosmalen
However a survey of the River Aripuana basin in 2000 discovered a group of 3 peccaries that did not belong to any of the above species. Further searches in 2003 produced a film of four of the peccaries, and some evidence from local villages that hunt the animals.

Holotype material
Marc van Roosmalen, the well knows Amazon conservationist and researcher, collected 5 skins from hunters as well as a complete skull. Further studies showed that the new species of peccary was much taller than the other known species, thus it has been christened the Giant peccary.
New giant peccary, discovered in Brazil. © Marc van Roosmalen
Habits and distribution
Unlike other peccaries, the Giant peccary lives in small family groups consisting of an adult pair and 1-2 offspring. It appears to eat on fresh fruits and seeds unlike other peccaries, which search under the soil for roots and tubers. When hunted Giant peccaries run away at high speed, again unlike other peccaries which travel in large groups and defend themselves very aggressively. It is believed that they have a very restricted distribution and thus should be listed on the IUCN Red List.

The surveys and discoveries were made by Marc van Roosmalen, Lothar Frenz, Pim van Hooft, Hans de Iongh and Herwig Leirs.

Click here to read the full scientific paper. The Amazon Association for the Preservation of Nature.
Marc van Roosmalen is one of the most accomplished field biologists alive. Like some of the great explorers of the 19th century Marc is a hands-on naturalist, spending much of his time in the wilderness, and at the same time producing prolific amounts of research and contributions to the scientific community. All the while Marc is truly genuine and passionate about the wildlife he has dedicated his life to.

However Marc Van Roosmalen was given an extraordinary 16 year sentence by a Brazilian court for allegedly keeping wild animals without a permit as well as embezzlement. Marc, who has worked in the Amazon for nearly 20 years and has discovered several previously unknown species of monkeys, was charged with illegal wildlife trafficking as he was looking after several orphaned monkeys that had been brought to him. Marc’s research has set him against cattle ranchers, farmers, and illegal loggers who are all in favour of deforestation.

Click here to help Marc and his work with the Amazon Association for the preservation of Nature.

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