White-lipped peccaries are generally brown or black in color. Their coat is bristly and hairs that run down the spine make a crest, which stands up when the peccary becomes excited. Peccaries have a round body with a long snout. They have white markings that start below the snout and run to the cheek area just below the eyes. Young peccaries are grey, reddish or dark in color, sometimes with a white throat.
White-lipped peccaries are found in Central and South America. They are native to Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. These animals live in dense, humid, tropical forests, and can also be found in a wide range of other habitats such as dry forests, grasslands, mangrove, Cerrado, and dry xerophytic areas.
White-lipped peccaries are active during the day, more specifically in the mornings and afternoons. They live in herds that number 20-300 individuals, including both males and females, and cases have been reported of herds reaching 2000 peccaries. These animals can spend up to two-thirds of their day traveling and feeding. They also like to wallow in mud. Often, peccaries can be smelled before seen because they give off a skunk-like odor. When these animals roam in their range land, they can be very loud, clattering their teeth and grunting to one another to communicate and stay within the herd. They communicate with olfactory, acoustic, and physical contact to keep together in the herd. When cornered or feel threatened White-lipped peccaries become aggressive; they give off a loud “bark” and show off their teeth in an attempt to avoid conflict.
Little is known about the mating system in White-lipped peccaries. These animals can breed throughout the year depending on location. The breeding season is extremely variable due to the fruiting season and consists of two distinct peaks in areas such as Costa Rica, one occurring in February and one in July. Mexico has distinct breeding seasons in April and November. Females give birth to 1-4 piglets after the gestation period that lasts around 156-162 days. Piglets can run within a few hours after birth and are weaned by six months of age. They become reproductively mature between one and two years of age.
Main threats to White-lipped peccaries survival are deforestation and hunting. Destruction and subdivision of their natural range can have devastating effects on their population. Loss of habitat can lead to exposure for poachers, who can easily kill many peccaries at one time.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the White-lipped peccary total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.