The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Shrew
Story Of The Tenrec
Story Of The Rabbit
Story Of The Chamois
Story Of The Duckbill
Story Of The Peccary
Story Of The Linsang
Story Of The Aard-vark
Story Of The Gorilla
Story Of The Weasel
Read More Articles About: The Story Of Wild Animals
Story Of The Peccary
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In South America I made the acquaintance of a gentleman who had a large plantation which had suffered much damage from the frequent visits of a herd of peccaries.
He finally located the sleeping place of the herd, and at his invitation I accompanied him upon a peccary shooting expedition. He chose a cloudy morning, with threatening rain, for on such days the peccary will not leave its lodgings unless compelled. Before we started a fine drizzle came on, which made the day all the better for our purpose. The peccary's mode of sleeping is peculiar. They usually frequent those heavy canebrakes, through which are scattered, at wide intervals, trees of enormous size and age. These, from their isolated condition, are most exposed to the fury of storms, and, there-fore, most liable to be thrown down. We find their giant stems stretched here and there through the canebrakes, overgrown with the densest thickets of the cane, matted together by strong and thorny vines. In these old trees the peccaries find their favorite lodgings. Into one of these logs a drove of twenty or thirty of them will enter at night, each one backing in, so that the last one entering stands with his nose at the entrance. The planters, who dread them and hate them, as well on account of the ravages on their grain-crops which they commit, the frequent destruction or mutilation by them of their stock their favorite dogs, and sometimes even their horses wage a unique warfare upon them, and it was upon such a mission that my friend and I set out.
Just before day we arrived at one of the big logs in which the peccaries had taken refuge. Concealing ourselves we waited in silence for the coming light.
Soon as the day opened, peering cautiously through the cane, we could perceive the protruded snout, and sharp, watchful eyes of the sentinel-peccary on duty, while his fellows behind him were asleep. Noiselessly the unerring rifle was raised, the ring of its explosion was heard, and, with a convulsive spring, the sentinel leapt forward out of the hole, and rolled in its death-struggle on the ground. Scarcely an instant passed before a low grunt was heard, and another pair of eyes were seen shining steadily in the place the other had just held. Not a sound was heard, not even a branch of the embowering cane stirred as I raised my rifle for the next shot. With steady nerve the piece was fired. Out sprang the second victim as the first had done; then another took its place, and so on to the third, fourth, fifth, and twentieth. By some carelessness my friend and I happened to make a stir in the cane around us, when out sprang the twenty-first with a short grunt with-out waiting to be shot this time, and followed by the whole herd, which was at once joined by a herd that came grunting and tearing from a similar hiding place. Both herds charged straight at us, and we took to our heels.
With foresight gained by experience my planter friend had selected a place of concealment near a forest of large trees. Toward this we ran, and succeeded in reaching the lower branches before the enraged animals arrived at the base. From this vantage point we finally succeeded in killing the remainder of the droves.
The peccary is both dreaded and hated by the South Americans, for it is so exceedingly ferocious, and so utterly devoid of all sense of fear, that it will always charge at any object that comes in its way; an elephant would not scare it, if an elephant were to be transported to South America. So it puts to flight those whom it attacks, and they fly before it in mixed fear and wrath against the pugnacious little animals which are pursuing them.
It is small, rarely exceeding eighteen inches in height, and yet is not less dreaded than the most savage wild boar would be. Its jaws are armed with tusks, like those of the boar, but they are straight instead of curved, are sharp at the edges, and, although only about an inch and a half in length, inflict horrible wounds, on account of the muscular strength of the creature's neck. When a body of them charge against an enemy, fancied or real, they will never be driven away, but will fight till the last is slain. On this account, no one will willingly oppose them; and, if a herd of peccaries comes in the way, men, horses, and dogs, all fly in haste, as even the horses would be soon brought down, for their legs would be cut to pieces.
Of the two species of this animal, the collared peccary is the smaller. It is from 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder and ranges from Arkansas and Texas to Patagonia.
The white-lipped peccary is the larger species, and is found south of the Rio Negro.
An altogether unique feature in these animals is the presence of a large gland in the middle of the back, from which is secreted in great abundance a most evil-smelling oily substance.
In appearance, peccaries are not unlike small hogs but with very slender limbs; they have no tails, and their snouts are very long and flexible.