By Dr Alexine Keuroghlian, member of IUCN’s Peccary Specialist Group
By Dr Alexine Keuroghlian, member of IUCN’s Peccary Specialist Group.
I was honoured and flattered to receive the Harry Messel Award for Conservation Leadership, from IUCN's Species Survival Commission, especially knowing how many wonderful conservation biologists are struggling to make an impact in their region. I wish there could be awards for all of them. Regionally this recognition promotes our continued efforts to preserve the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), a species that is not necessarily considered cute and cuddly but is threatened in many places in Brazil.
As the Pantanal/Cerrado coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – Brazil, our greatest challenges have been to find solutions that prevent further deforestation and encourage rural populations to adopt practices that avoid further habitat loss. To help us reach out to the local community, we teamed up with a popular local woman’s Futsal team who have the white-lipped peccary as their team mascot.
These women now teach their family, friends and communities about the importance of white lipped-peccaries and they have great success encouraging their community to participate in courses that show them how to use the land sustainably and manage their cattle in an eco-friendly way. Results show that rural property owners are gaining financially from these techniques and the environment is benefitting too!
In the future we hope to prioritise protected areas for white-lipped peccaries and other highly mobile species such as jaguars, giant otters and tapirs using some ground-breaking discoveries we’ve made about white-lipped peccary population genetics. We have discovered that genes flow between populations as far as 80km apart, signalling that conservation efforts need to protect the habitats linking these populations.
More information avaliable in http://portals.iucn.org/blog/2012/07/19/protectingthenotsocuteandcuddly/