Pantanal Stories and Tips

Peccaries Research

Peccary  Inserting a Chip Photo,

Peccaries are hog-like animals that primarily eat fruits and plants. A full grown peccary measure 3 to 4 feet in length and weighs between 45 and 90 pounds. They form herds and have large ranges. Peccaries are important prey for large carnivores in the Pantanal.

The research objectives were to provide populations estimates of the peccaries and feral pigs, estimate seasonal and annual range areas using radio telemetry, and document their environmental role in the region. This required safely capturing peccaries for placing radio collars and identification chips and then tracking them using radio telemetry.

The peccaries were captured in both large fenced in pens about 6 feet by 6 feet and in single metal enclosures. Corn and native fruits were placed in the pen to attract the animals. The door closed with a delicate trigger mechanism that was set up above the bait and attached to the door with a string above the ground. Alexine, the researcher, said this is what the natives use in the Amazon. It took skill to set the triggering string.

The traps were checked daily. Doing this required traveling to remote locations which required a boat, horses, or walking depending on the area. When a peccary was caught, the team went to work on learning about the animal. The peccary was anesthetized using a jab stick with a syringe. The animal quickly went to sleep and then the team went to work. While sedated the peccary was weighed, several size measurements taken, the age determined my examining its teeth, blood taken, and the final step was inserting a radio chip the size of a grain of rice under its skin so if the same animal was captured it could easily be identified. Some animals were given a radio collar for tracking their movements. This was all accomplished quickly, then the peccary was returned to the enclosure. The animal was released many hours later, the time given to be sure it was fully alert after the anesthesia. This process did not harm the animal.

Of course, most days peccaries were not captured. But the research went on tracking their movements with radios. This provided important information on their habits and ranges.

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