The pre-dawn trek through the Peruvian jungle was nothing short of a primeval experience. Millions of insects filled the dark, humid air with chirps and clicking sounds. Every once in a while one would show up in the light of a headlamp; strange-looking katydids with incredibly long antennae or a highly camouflaged walking stick insect. A few frogs called from the trees but nothing else was heard nor seen as guests and guide made their way back into the Amazon rainforest.
When they finally arrived at their destination, the first light of day was barely creeping into the forest. Woodcreepers and motmots began to call as another day started in the Peruvian Amazon but they didnít hike back into the jungle to see birds. A few grunts signaled the arrival of their elusive quarry and shortly thereafter, dim shapes could be seen through the leafy understory. Both guests and guide kept their silence as the herd of White-lipped Peccaries came into view. These large, shy, forest pigs were visiting a salt lick deep in the jungle and were the main reason why they had hiked back through the darkness. As videos were made and pictures taken, the peccaries clacked their tusks and suddenly ran off to forage in the rainforest.
White-lipped Peccaries (Tayassu pecari) are one of two species of wild pigs that occur in Tambopata, the other being the Collared Peccary. White-lipped Peccaries are the larger of the two and travel in bigger herds. Despite their intimidating appearance, they tend to be shy around people and are only common in remote, jungle areas. Fortunately, they are seen at all of the Rainforest Expeditions lodges in Tambopata, especially so at the Tambopata Research Center.A few interesting facts about the White-lipped Peccary:
How to see White-lipped Peccaries when taking an Amazon adventure tour:
- True wilderness animal: This large pig quickly disappears from areas subject to hunting and deforestation. They seem to require large, unbroken tracts of lowland rainforest such as those of the Tambopata region.
- Preyed upon by Jaguars: Other than humans, the main predator of the White-lipped Peccary is the Jaguar. These large felines often follow herds of peccaries to see of they can catch a sick or young individual lagging behind the other animals.
- Peccaries are omnivorous: White-lipped Peccaries feed upon vegetable matter, tubers, insects, and any small animals they manage to catch (especially snakes).
- Sometimes followed by ground-cuckoos: The Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo is a rarely seen bird of the Amazon rainforest understory. They frequently follow peccary herds to catch the arthropods and small animals that the peccaries scare out of hiding.
- Visit eco-lodges in large, protected areas: The main reason why these forest pigs are regularly seen at the Rainforest Expedition lodges in Tambopata is due to the protection given to the surrounding forests.
- Visit a salt lick inside the forest: White-lipped Peccaries and other mammals often visit certain spots in the forest where they can obtain salts from the ground. Excursions to such exciting sites are often offered to guests staying at Rainforest Expedition lodges.
To experience White-lipped Peccaries and other features of the wild Peruvian Amazon, take a jungle adventure tour with Rainforest Expeditions!