Facing the 2013 Gold Rush: A Population Viability Analysis for the Endangered White-Lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica


The white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) is facing range-wide declines throughout the Neotropics. It has been eliminated from about 89% of its historical range in Costa Rica. Corcovado National Park, in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, is the last remaining stronghold for the white-lipped peccary in the country. In 2013, the Park experienced a sudden gold rush that brought with it a wave of 250 miners and vigorous hunting pressures on the population. Given that the species is endangered and is susceptible to hunting due to its herding behavior and tendency to cohere and attack when threatened rather than flee, it is important to assess its probability of extinction under various hunting scenarios. Incorporating data from studies on the life history of the species throughout its range in the Neotropics and in Corcovado, I used the population viability analysis software VORTEX to simulate the population trajectories and probabilities of extinction of the species under current hunting pressures and under various management scenarios. The results of this study revealed that under the 2013 scenario where 250 miners were present in the Park, the population of white-lipped peccaries has a about a 40% chance of extinction within five years and about a 99% chance of extinction within 10 years. Moreover, there is an “extinction threshold” for the population between the presence of 100 and 150 miners hunting in the Park. At this threshold, the population growth rate, r, drops from a positive growth rate (r = 0.09, SD = 0.08) to a negative one (r = -0.07, SD = 0.29). I suggest that anti-mining and anti-poaching laws be enforced immediately, and that the number of miners be reduced to 100 at a minimum, if not completely, in order to ensure that the population of white-lipped peccaries becomes viable and evades a local extinction.

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Rivera, C. (2014) Facing the 2013 Gold Rush: A Population Viability Analysis for the Endangered White-Lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. Natural Resources, 5, 1007-1019. doi: 10.4236/nr.2014.516085.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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