We have obtained out first pictures of Bush Dogs (Speothos venaticus) in the camera traps! The Pantanal Giant armadillo Project team was at Baía das Pedras for the whole month of September and worked very hard, during one of hottest months of the year. Although no new giant armadillo captures occurred we did catch another Southern Naked-tailed Armadillo and four Six-banded Armadillo for the epidemiological component of the project.
The highlight of this expedition is certainly these pictures of a pair of Bush Dogs. After over 20 months of placing cameras in front of burrows, we really thought we had seen it all…. I was always disappointed that we had never gotten pictures of bush dogs. Although they are very rare, it is the only animal before our study started that has been documented using Giant Armadillo burrows. So I was surprised when we documented 22 other species of vertebrates using the burrows, but also surprised that we never documented Bush Dogs. I simply began to think they did not occur in our study area. Bush Dogs, as the Giant Armadillo do, occur only at very low densities even though they have a wide distribution, actually, almost the same distribution as Giant Armadillos. There was no real evidence of the species present in the study area… so before these pictures I simply thought they were absent.
Have a look at these pictures; the Bush Dogs did not use the burrow as the Giant Armadillo was inside it! We took a sequence of pictures showing the Giant Armadillo enter, the Bush Dogs and the Giant Armadillo leaving. We were just submitting our paper on Giant Armadillos as ecosystem engineers and now have another species to add to our list!
Finally I want to remind you all or alert you that FIFA recently revealed that one of the most high-profile ambassadors of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be the Three-banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus), a creature that is endemic to Brazil. This is a unique opportunity for us to promote the conservation of armadillos and get Giant Armadillos on the conservation radar.
In 10 days we are back in the field for another 20 days. Photographer Kevin Schafer will be with us during the whole expedition so we will have lots of beautiful pictures to share with you. Wish us luck!!! And hopefully another Giant Armadillo capture.
Once again thank you so much for your interest in our project.
All the best,
Dr Arnaud Desbiez
Project leader – Conservation Field Grant 2012