Tierpark Berlin is supporting efforts to protect and reintroduce the Chacoan peccary in Paraguay.
- Project partner
El Centro Chaqueño para la Conservación e Investigación (CCCI)
- Project name
Chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri)
- IUCN threatened status
- Project location
Fortin Toledo, Paraguay
- Greatest threat
Destruction of habitat
Breeding an on-site reserve population in captivity for research and potential reintroduction
Threat Categories of IUCN
Chacoan peccaries at Tierpark Berlin
Tierpark Berlin welcomed its first Chacoan peccaries in 2012. That made it the second European zoo to ever house this rare species of New World pig, which first arrived in Europe in 1978. The Tierpark’s first Chacoan peccaries came from a breeding group managed by the Zoological Association of America. The first young were born at the Tierpark just one year later. Since then, Tierpark Berlin’s two peccary families have been developing well. In 2015, the Tierpark also began coordinating the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for the rare species. Ten other zoos are now participating in this EEP.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the Chacoan peccary certainly has a harder time winning people’s hearts than other classically “cuter” animals. Yet the peccaries are certainly adorable in their own way and they are in great need of our help. The largest of the three New World pig species, the Chacoan peccary lives in the Gran Chaco region that is divided between Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. The locals here call the animal the taguá.
The hot and dry thorn forests of Gran Chaco provide a unique habitat that is rich in biodiversity. But cattle breeding is increasingly encroaching on this crucial habitat, with trees being felled to create grazing ground. In fact, the Chacoan peccaries’ habitat has shrunk to such an extent that they are now among the most endangered mammals in central South America. Poaching also poses a threat to the survival of the species. Currently, there are only an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Chacoan peccaries living in Paraguay.
Proyecto Taguá – help from the north
To help protect these endangered peccaries, in 1985 the Zoological Society of San Diego joined forces with other North American zoos to establish the conservation and breeding station ProyectoTaguá at Fortin Toledo in the Paraguayan part of Gran Chaco. This station is currently home to some 100 Chacoan peccaries divided into several groups. This was the first and remains the only conservation and breeding programme for these endangered New World pigs in all of South America. The station is still exclusively funded by US zoos, and the first young born here were transferred to the United States in 1996 to establish a separate breeding group.
Europe’s commitment to the taguá
The first young from the US breeding group came to Europe in 2012 – straight to Tierpark Berlin. In 2013, the Tierpark also became the first European zoo to help fund the work of Proyecto Taguá. With this money, the Tierpark is helping finance the construction and renovation of enclosures, the purchase of food and medication, as well as research and conservation projects in aid of the endangered peccaries. On the Tierpark’s initiative, an EAZA European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) was established for the Chacoan peccary. The Tierpark has coordinated that programme from the beginning. The goal is to build up a population of 80 to 100 individuals in European zoos over the next eight to ten years. A European reserve population will make an important contribution to the long-term survival of this endangered species.