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Maned Wolf filmed on camera trap in Brazil's Atlantic Forest

By Lee Dingain

Environmentalist and nature photographer Juran Santos has long been capturing images of animals in the Atlantic Forest and began visiting REGUA regularly six years ago to record and monitor wildlife at the reserve, setting up camera traps along various trails assisted by Keepers of the Wild Ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira.

Camera traps are ideal for observing wildlife with minimal disturbance and provide rare insights into the behaviour of species that are only very rarely seen. Puma, Margay, Ocelot, Southern Tamandua, Tayra, Crab-eating Fox, and Northern Three-striped Opossum are among the highly elusive mammals recorded by Juran’s camera traps at REGUA to date, with secretive forest-floor birds like Solitary Tinamou, including family parties and mating pairs; foraging flocks of Spot-winged Wood-Quail, and the Rufous-breasted Leaftosser also captured on video. Nothing, however, had prepared Juran and Rildo for what the camera trap video files downloaded last week revealed—REGUA’s first-ever Maned Wolf.

The largest canid found in South America, this ‘fox on stilts’ is easily recognized by its incredibly long black legs—an adaptation to its grassland habitat—long reddish-brown fur, large ears, white-tipped tail, and black mane on its neck and back from which it gets its name. The Maned Wolf is associated with hot and dry open habitats such as grasslands with shrub and open canopy woodland in Brazil’s interior (Cerrado) and Paraguay (Chaco) and strongly avoids forested habitats with a closed canopy. They are rarely found in the humid forested slope of the Serra dos Órgãos mountains where REGUA is located, so the appearance of this individual in the dense rainforest at REGUA is a great surprise.

So what brought it here?

Loss of their habitat to agriculture, retaliatory killing for depredation on livestock, poaching for zoos and collections, trophy hunting, and infectious diseases spread by domestic dogs are all threats to this species. Maned Wolves are forced to travel farther afield for food and water, and habitat fragmentation by roads and increased road traffic has led to many being killed by vehicles throughout their range. The individual recorded at REGUA may have been passing through in search of its preferred grassland habitat, or perhaps it has expanded its foraging area. Either way, the protected forest of the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve provides a refuge for this magnificent animal as well as all other species captured by Juran on camera trap.


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