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Airdate: Nov 15, 2002
Scientist: Marion Kellerhoff

Pantanal: Tracking Peccaries

Pantanal: Tracking Peccaries
In the Pantanal region of Brazil, researchers are tracking Peccaries with radio transmitters. to learn more about the habits of these elusive creatures.



We're in Brazil, in an area called the Pantanal -- the largest wetlands in the world -- and we're tracking wild peccaries. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The Pantanal is a mixture of forest, savanna and swamp. The best way to get around is on horseback

ambience: horse

Peccaries are shy, elusive pig-like animals which travel in herds. Although they're found in the southwestern United States through Central and South America, they've been widely hunted for meat, and the Pantanal is one of the few places where they have enough land to survive on. Some members of the herd that we're tracking have radio collars on them. The collars transmit a signal which can be picked up with portable receiver.

"This is a radio tracking device."

Marion Kallerhoff is a research assistant at the Pantanal's Conservation Research Center. She's on horseback, holding what looks like a small Television antenna in the air. The tracking device is in the horse's saddleback. Marion turns the antenna and listens to the change in the loudness of the signals being picked up from the radio collars. And that way she knows the direction to head in.

ambience: radar blip sounds, horses hooves

"Seeing tracks, it's a small group."

When we get closer we dismount. But it will only be possible to get near the peccaries if we're on foot. Finally, about 25 feet away, we see about half a dozen grey-ish black peccaries, trundling through the brush. Listen carefully and you'll hear their grunts and the sound they make when they're alarmed - they clack their teeth.

ambience: peccaries, grunts, teeth clacking

Peccaries are important seed dispersers in the tropical ecosystem. At the research center, they're trying to learn more about the habits of these rarely seen animals.

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation I'm Jim Metzner.