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White-lipped Peccary

Chacoan Peccary

© Charlotte Beckham/WLT

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetartiodactyla

Family: Tayassuidae

Scientific Name: Tayassu pecari

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

Protected by the following WLT projects


Species Range (IUCN)


The White-lipped Peccary, known locally as Tayassu pecari, is native to Central and South America. It is so called because of the white fur around its mouth, chin and lower cheek.

In size and shape the White-lipped Peccary is similar to a domesticated pig, with a large head, thick neck, long snout and short tail. Adults can be up to a metre in length (head and body), with a tail measuring up to six centimetres, and weighing up to 40 kilograms.

Their skin is covered by long black or dark brown hair. The coat of young peccaries is grey, reddish or dark tan, with or without white throats.  


The White-lipped Peccary, feeds on fruit, nuts, snails and sometimes fish. It prefers to stay close to water sources where fruits are abundant.

The species is mostly diurnal (active during the day), forming large herds of 50 to 300 or more individuals. Herds of peccaries produce loud sounds by screaming and cracking their teeth, which can be heard from hundreds of metres away. They have poor vision, and avoid humans.

 Following a gestation period of 158 days, females usually produce up to two young. 


White-lipped Peccaries are found in a wide range of habitats from tropical rainforest, wet and dry grasslands and woodlands to tropical dry forest and mangroves. They can be found from sea level up to 1,900 metres above sea level in the eastern Andes. 

They are found throughout Central and South America, from Mexico to Argentina.


The population of White-lipped Peccary is estimated to have decreased by nearly 30 percent in the past three generations (18 years), according to IUCN’s Red List assessment of 2012. The main reasons for this decline are habitat loss and hunting.

Because of the large numbers of individuals in a herd, peccaries require a large home range to thrive, on average some 120 square kilometres. As such, they are dependent on large protected areas of wild habitat in order to forage enough food.

Deforestation and fragmentation of the forest reduce food sources and tree cover. With fewer places to hide, the peccaries are vulnerable to humans who hunt them for meat. Because they move in large herds they are easy to spot and hunters can kill many individuals at once.

Due to the loss of forest cover, illegal hunting and disease, current populations are likely to continue to decline. White-lipped Peccaries are even disappearing from protected regions in the Amazon. Because of this dramatic decline in numbers, scientists in Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador have updated the Red List status for the species to Endangered or Vulnerable.

Learn more

See IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for more information on the classification of the White-lipped Peccary.


  1. Emmons, L.H (1997). Neotropical Rain Forest Mammals. A field guide, second edition. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  4. C Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund. 2012 cited in
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