By Shervin Belgrave
Kaieteur News – Guyana is home to two species of the “bush hog”, the white-lipped peccary and the collared peccary, a pig-like animal that is known for its high musky scent. This wild animal is very popular in the country. However, the bush hog’s popularity is not for its interesting characteristics and behaviour patterns, but mostly because its meat is considered to be a delicacy.
In Guyana, many locals and even tourists would pay thousands of Guyanese dollars just to eat the meat prepared in a traditional Amerindian dish called “tuma pot”.
For this reason, the “bush hog” is top game, not only in Guyana’s jungle, but also in other tropical rainforests across South and Central America where the animal can be found. Hunting them for food has led to them disappearing from their natural habitats at an alarming rate and they are now being listed as endangered species-especially the white-lipped peccary.
In 2020, the New York Times reported that it is unclear how many of these animals remain in the wild, but if over-hunting and destruction of their habitat continues to be uncontrolled, then they could go extinct very quickly.
In some countries, like Guatemala, measures are being put in place to protect the “bush hog”, because it is a unique and interesting animal that plays a vital role in the ecosystem of their habitats.
The two species found in Guyana, the white-lipped peccary and the collared peccary, are not very different from each other.
Collared Peccaries are grayish black, with a yellow tinge on the cheeks and a white or yellowish collar over the shoulders round to the throat. Males and females are very similar in size and colour. The young are a yellowish brown with a black stripe on the back. The white-lipped peccary, on the other hand, are covered in dark hair except on certain regions, such as the throat, which is cream in colour.
The rest of their characteristics, however, are almost similar. They have a large head, thick neck, long snout and a short tail. Bush hogs also have large sharp canines, and the upper ones point downwards.
These animals travel and feed in large groups or herds that can be up to 300 strong. Moving around the jungle in large groups gives them an advantage in fending off predators, such as jaguars and other large cats. Females reproduce litters of two and the gestation period normally lasts some 158 days. Adult peccaries can weigh up to 45 kilograms and can be very vicious and dangerous in protecting their young.
They are considered to be omnivores, feeding on small insects and small frogs, but a large part of their diet consists of fruits, and some plants.
Bush hogs communicate with each other by clicking their teeth, moaning and high pitched screams but their very high musky scent can tell predators and hunters when they are close by. This scent is produced from a gland that is below their jaws.
Persons have tried to domesticate these wild animals and rear them as pets, but according to one such individual, Leila, it takes a lot of patience to do so.
She recalled rearing one during her childhood days and said it was no easy task.
“Bush hogs are hard to control, the one I had was very stubborn and destructive, he would eat all of our soap, tumble down the pots, and eat all the food, and when it was sleep time, he loved the nice clean bed and sheets”, Leila recounted.
The bush hog was so stubborn and destructive that Leila was forced to get rid of him. Her experience suggests that bush hogs are not easily domesticated and belong in the wild.
Source of information
(Collared peccary – Wikipedia) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-lipped_Peccary#:~:text=The%20white-lipped%20peccary%20is%20a%20piglike%20ungulate%2C%20covered,90%20cm%20%2835%20in%29%2C%20measured%20from%20the%20shoulder.)
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