Quimilero Project seeks to promote the long-term conservation of Chaco’s biodiversity, with a specific focus on the quimilero species and its habitats.
The quimilero is a critically endangered endemic species of the Gran Chaco. The loss and degradation of its habitat are rapidly increasing. There is limited information available on the quimilero and other species that reside in the region and face similar threats.
The Quimilero Project encompasses various aspects aimed at contributing to the conservation of the quimilero, as well as other species in the Chaco and their habitats. These include research, monitoring of fauna, fostering knowledge exchange between scientific experts and the local community, and enhancing local capacity building.
Our objective is to make a meaningful contribution to the long-term conservation of the quimilero by preserving its habitat and ensuring connectivity within the ecosystem. To achieve this, we operate under a framework that respects and considers the needs, knowledge, and perspectives of the local communities. We actively involve them in our research efforts and conservation actions, aiming to promote sustainable and legitimate development in the region where the quimilero resides.
The South American Gran Chaco is the second-largest ecoregion on the continent, following the Amazon. It can be classified into two regions: the Humid Chaco and the Dry Chaco, based on the amount of rainfall received.
The quimilero is an endemic species found exclusively in the Gran Chaco, primarily inhabiting forested areas of the Dry Chaco. Consequently, our primary efforts are focused on the Dry Chaco region, which spans a total area of 787,000 km2 and still contains extensive interconnected natural ecosystems.
The Dry Chaco exhibits arid and semi-arid conditions, characterized by xerophytic forests that intermingle with other forest types, such as mesquite forests, along with various types of plant cover. To gain further insights into the natural environments of the Dry Chaco, I encourage you to explore our blog.
The forests within the region have evolved under historical temperature and humidity conditions that differ from the present-day climate. These forests are ancient, and their loss would be challenging to rectify.
Currently, the South American Gran Chaco and the Dry Chaco are facing significant threats. The rate at which forests are disappearing is among the fastest in the world, and this rapid deforestation is resulting in the loss of both wildlife species and the ecosystem services they provide.
The quimilero is a species of peccary, which is an animal resembling a pig but belonging to a different family called Tayassuidae. The phylogeny, or the evolutionary relationship, of this species is a subject of discussion among scientists. Currently, two scientific names are accepted for the quimilero: Parachoerus wagneri or Catagonus wagneri.
Although our knowledge about the quimilero is limited, it is highly probable that it plays significant ecological roles, similar to other peccary species such as the collar or morito and the labiado or maján.
Despite the scarcity of information regarding the quimilero, there are some key aspects that we do know about the species>>
Among the three existing species of peccary, the quimilero is the largest, reaching a weight of approximately 30 to 40 kg in adulthood. In fact, it holds the distinction of being the largest endemic mammal of the Gran Chaco.
The generation time of the quimilero species is estimated to be approximately 5.26 years.
The quimilero is known to form groups of up to 11 individuals, although the average group size for this species is approximately 4.5 individuals. However, solitary quimileros are occasionally observed as well.
The quimilero is considered a territorial species.
In the Paraguayan Chaco, the quimilero has a home range of approximately 1,100 hectares, with a central area occupying around 600 hectares.
Studies on the density of the quimilero species have produced varied results depending on the specific location where they were conducted. The density ranges from 0.17 individuals per square kilometer in the Argentine Chaco, specifically in areas where hunting occurs, to 0.43 individuals per square kilometer in sites without hunting in the Paraguayan Chaco. However, it’s worth noting that older studies have reported even higher densities, with some areas recording densities of over 9 individuals per square kilometer.
The quimilero is primarily found in the Dry Chaco and has adapted to the arid and semi-arid conditions of this region. It has developed strategies to survive in areas where surface water is limited or absent. One adaptation is the ability to concentrate urine, enabling it to conserve water. Additionally, the quimilero feeds on cactus pads, which are an important part of its diet. In fact, the species gets its name from the “quimil,” a typical cactus of the Dry Chaco. This adaptation allows the quimilero to utilize available resources in its habitat effectively.
The quimilero species has specific habitat requirements and relies on forests for its survival. It is not found in cultivated areas or regions with low forest cover. Research indicates that the species requires areas with more than 80% forest cover to thrive, and it does not occupy forest remnants in intensively cultivated areas.
Recent studies conducted by members of the Quimilero Project have revealed that the species utilizes both primary forests and secondary forests. This suggests that the quimilero can adapt to certain levels of habitat modification as long as suitable forested areas are available.
Currently, the quimilero species is facing a significant threat of extinction, as recognized by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The primary threat to its survival is the loss and fragmentation of its habitat, which is directly linked to the expansion of agricultural and livestock activities into the Chaco region. This expansion is occurring at an alarming rate, resulting in the devastation of Chaco ecosystems.
The agricultural and livestock frontier is driven by individuals or companies from other regions who displace the traditional inhabitants of these territories. Once the forests are cleared, these areas are often utilized for the production of export-oriented crops like soybeans. Consequently, the quimilero, along with a large portion of the biodiversity in these regions, disappears.
In addition to habitat loss, the quimilero is negatively impacted by the degradation of the remaining forests, hunting activities, and attacks by domestic dogs. These factors further contribute to the species’ precarious conservation status. Urgent conservation measures are needed to address these threats and protect the quimilero and its habitat.
Actions to conserve the quimilero and its habitat are urgently needed.
We are a diverse group of passionate individuals dedicated to conserving the quimilero and its habitat, as well as other species that inhabit the South American Gran Chaco.
Our team comprises professionals from various fields, technicians, local indigenous people, and rural inhabitants (“criollos”) who reside in the same forests that serve as the home of the quimilero.
Our efforts are focused on two main areas:
The Quimilero Project was established in 2015, building upon the extensive work conducted by a significant portion of our team since 2011. As early as 2011, we collaborated with hunters from the Argentine Dry Chaco to monitor wildlife populations. During that time, we conducted interviews and transects to study the three species of peccaries, including their distribution and habitat requirements. These investigations covered a vast area of over 54,000 km2 in the Argentine provinces of Chaco, Salta, and Formosa.
The basis, the foundation, of the Quimilero Project is respect for diversity. The Quimilero Project recognizes that scientific knowledge is as valid as any other form of knowledge. It understands that only by coming together and integrating different wisdoms can we effectively address the global environmental and climate crisis and secure our future.
In order to engage with populations that have historically faced marginalization and continue to have their basic rights violated today, the professionals and technicians of the Quimilero Project work in a collaborative manner with local communities. They prioritize a horizontal approach, respecting the timelines and needs of those who inhabit these territories. Transparency plays a crucial role, as the project ensures that the objectives and methodologies of each initiative are clearly communicated. Moreover, the project adheres to consultation procedures mandated by national and international regulations, such as the ILO 169 convention.
Furthermore, the Quimilero Project endeavors to share the knowledge acquired from its initiatives and other sources with the local population. It recognizes the importance of returning this knowledge to the community, fostering mutual learning and empowerment.
When conducting scientific research, maintaining rigor is of utmost importance. The Quimilero Project employs carefully designed sampling strategies and conducts rigorous statistical analyses to effectively address the research questions at hand.
As the Quimilero Project operates within forested areas inhabited by local communities, its conservation efforts are geared towards empowering these communities, particularly the younger generation. The project’s overarching goal is to foster a future where local individuals will take the lead in driving conservation initiatives. Simultaneously, all actions undertaken by the Quimilero Project aim to promote social and environmental justice within the local context, as well as enhance conservation opportunities. This approach is considered vital for the region to achieve genuine and sustainable development.
If you are interested in knowing more about our project, do not hesitate to contact us.