Giant Armadillo Conservation Program end of April 2020

Giant Armadillo Conservation Program Update March 2020
18 de junho de 2020
Instituto de Pesquisa e Conservação de Tamanduás no Brasil
18 de junho de 2020
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Giant Armadillo Conservation Program end of April 2020

Giant Armadillos in the Rio Doce State Park (Foto por: ICAS (Instituto de Conservação de Animais Silvestres))

Enviado por: Arnaud and the team
Data: 01 de maio de 2020


Giant Armadillo Conservation Program end of April 2020

Dear supporters of the Giant Armadillo Conservation Program,

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well during this challenging and unprecedented time in our history. Our thoughts go out to those who are directly affected by Covid-19 and we hope you are all staying healthy and sane. While it is believed that Covid-19 was caused by the wildlife trade, this type of animal-borne disease is also closely tied to humanity’s destruction of the environment. Our connection to Nature has never been clearer.

I hope and have to believe that positive changes will come out of this. Unfortunately, the current situation in Brazil does not show that. We are having record deforestation in the Amazon, fires in the Pantanal and environmental laws continue to be dismantled at a faster pace than ever. Indigenous communities are particularly targeted. Politics have also become a sad tragic soap opera. It’s almost as though the Pandemic is used as a
cover. Truly heartbreaking.

More than ever my team and I are focused on our mission of biodiversity conservation. While the Pandemic and lock downs have certainly impacted us, we have also used this time to our benefit and have been hard at work on data processing, data analysis and writing reports and papers. It has also been a time to work more closely with our partners and students.

Our education work has obviously been very impacted. In March we had a whole series of workshops planned with teachers and schools to demonstrate the various teaching boxes full of materials for the kids to use and manipulate
in several hands-on learning activities. Well as you can imagine, those plans were canceled and the boxes retired. Those boxes that took over six months of research and hard work to create suddenly became the perfect weapon to spread the virus to all the children in the state! Although very disappointed our two educators quickly got to work to create an on-line platform of activities. Yesterday and the day before we had an online presentation of those materials and the platform to 50 teachers to get their impressions and feedback. During the presentation teachers used the chat to make their comments on each material. Andreia and Daniel now need to incorporate this feedback and keep improving the materials so we can apply and use them as soon as possible. Something great will be coming out of this!

In my last message I had announced with much excitement how we started working at the Rio Doce State Park to study and protect the last population of giant armadillos in the Atlantic forest. Two expeditions took place, however the last expedition was cut short by a few days as the Park was closed down by Federal law. However, both expeditions enabled us to sort out logistics, equip the house that the park has provided us as well as make many contacts and install 18 cameras for our first grid. We are thrilled to report that we got our first giant armadillo images from the Rio Doce State Park! This was the last camera trap the team checked before leaving the field site. These images are not only beautiful, but also intriguing! The images were taken during the day. In the Pantanal we got thousands upon thousands of images, but only twice did we see giant armadillos during the day, and usually only day break. The other curious thing is that we caught two males interacting. You can’t see it on this image but they are both
males. The Park is still closed and we anxiously wait for it to re-open.

Being stuck in the office can also be good! At the end of last year, the Anteaters & Highways Project became a member of Species360 thanks to sponsorship by the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens and the Giant Armadillo Conservation Program thanks to sponsorship by the Houston Zoo. Our veterinarians have now taken advantage of the lockdown to finally input data. Amanda Alves has been entering data about our wild giant anteaters from the Cerrado (N=53) and the Pantanal (N=14) including information about morphology, anesthesia, physiological measurements, test results, clinical notes, diagnosis and all the samples the have been collected. She is now also adding information from the 119 necropsies. The Necropsies include data from 62 giant anteaters (she had already included 30), 17 six-banded-armadillos, 15 southern tamanduas, 9 nine-banded-armadillos, 4 naked-tail-armadillos, 2 giant-armadillos, 2 jaguarundis, 1 maned wolf, 1 capybara, 1 Hog-nosed skunk, 1 bush dog, 1 crab-eating-racoon, 1 coati, 1 otter and 1 hoary fox. She is almost done and has 61 more animals to input.

Danilo Kluyber has been inputting data on the 33 giant armadillos we have caught over the past 10 years. Both veterinarians are having several web conferences with the support team of Species360 to discuss and develop tools
that will facilitate the use of the system for conservation projects. With all this information and tools, we are getting better views of our data and learning more about our reference values and clinical notes. We are also
very excited to be able to share our medical records and data with the community of Zoos. This is a great way of giving back and helping anteaters under human care around the world. We also look forward to working on collaborative studies with our partners in the near future.

We have also made great use of this extra time in the office to input and analyze data, work on papers and help the numerous students that collaborate with the project. Many of them are actually finishing their thesis this year
or have recently finished. All in all we have about 17 publications at various stage of completion and some have already been submitted. It has been really intense. All team members have been collaborating very intensely to make this happen. We have also given a total of 17 virtual talks in workshops, virtual conferences, meetings and for some of our zoo partners.

Several of the initiatives planned for this year need to be postponed and unfortunately some canceled. We are very aware that many of our partners are in a difficult financial situation and that our funding will be severely reduced as a consequence. We are carefully planning our every move, but we remain committed to our mission. Our team is more united than ever and determined to continue our track record of success for conservation.

One of the questions I often get is how is the lockdown affecting the wildlife in our study areas. It does not make a difference in the Pantanal, however in the Cerrado our female giant anteaters seem te be foraging much closer to the highway and even crossing at times, something they never did before. Surprisingly road kill figures do not seem to be impacted. I really wish they don’t get bolder and start crossing more.

All the best,

Arnaud & the teams.












ICAS (INSTITUTO DE CONSERVAÇÃO DE ANIMAIS SILVESTRES). Acesso em; Enviado em 01 de maio de 2020.



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