R. A. Donkin discusses the peccary in the New World.

Academic / Technical Report
R. A. Donkin

R. A. Donkin, "The Peccary: With Observations on the Introduction of Pigs to the New World," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 75, no. 5 (1985):1-152

Transactions of the American Philosophical Society
R. A. Donkin
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The three living species of peccary inhabit a vast area of the New World, between roughly 35 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. They are primarily forest or woodland animals, but two species (one of them only recently discovered) have adapted to scrub-dominated ecosystems, both natural and anthropogenic, particularly around the latitudinal and altitudinal margins of their range. The overall distribution has contracted since the beginning of European settlement, as a result of intensive hunting and reduction in the extent of preferred habitats. Local depletion of the population also occurs for the same reasons. Nevertheless, peccaries are remarkably resilient animals; their comparatively low fertility rates are matched by low (natural) mortality, and all three species are unspecialized feeders. Cultivated plants add to a wide variety of natural foodstuffs. Like pigs, peccaries are good pioneers, and when hunting pressures are relaxed, for whatever reasons, numbers usually recover.

In traditional societies, the peccary is hunted chiefly for meat, and within the combined distribution of the species probably no other animal has contributed more to human food supply. Europeans have valued both the meat and, on a much larger scale, the hides. As far as is known, the peccary has never been domesticated, that is, bred regularly in captivity, but juveniles are often reared (for food), and some are tamed and treated as pets. Perhaps the conditions and processes that would have led to domestication were disrupted by the European conquest (and the introduction of the pig). At the same time, other kinds of relationship with animals may have partly substituted for domestication. These controversial questions are taken up in the concluding sections of the monograph.

The accompanying maps, mainly on a continental scale, serve to locate evidence referred to in the text. They represent states of knowledge, the pattern of discovery over time, and the adventitious recording and survival of information. New evidence (not to mention what has inadvertently been missed) will undoubtedly modify whatever tentative conclusions it has been possible to draw from the distributional (and other) record

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