As many of you, my family and I have self-quarantined at home in the hopes of decreasing the spread of the coronavirus. All our education workshops, classes and teacher training have been canceled and field activities are
currently at a minimum. I am very aware that most of the zoos and aquariums supporting us have had to close their doors to visitors. There is not much I can do to help from here, but I thought I would share a few positive stories
and images in the hopes of: boosting morale, providing our partners with positive social media content to share…. or at least just to try and distract you a little bit.
I have two stories I want to share.
On the first of February the Giant Armadillo Conservation Program started an exciting new project in Rio Doce State Park in the Atlantic forest. The Rio Doce State Park is the last area where giant armadillos occur in the Atlantic Forest. Ten years ago, they still occurred at another site in the Sooretama reserve. However, we have had a masters student working in that reserve since 2018. To our dismay his work has actually documented that they are functionally extinct due to poaching at this site with just two females identified after two years of intensive field work. At the Rio Doce State Park, recent data from a camera trap study on jaguars included several giant
armadillo images. Last year I traveled to the park and talking with park guards and locals, I am confident that there is a potential population that could still be there. Furthermore, they could also potentially occur in fragments in the 10km buffer zone surrounding the park. The landscape around the park is rapidly changing, poachers enter the park, in August to November last year, multiple fires threatened the park. Changes in the area are happening now and fast. We must act immediately to prevent this unique population from going extinct as it did recently in the Espírito Santo state. I am so relieved and proud to say that we have started, and will do
You may remember that since last year we are partnering with the TamanduASAS project for the release of rehabilitated orphan giant anteaters. An unexpected consequence of this work recently happened! A new private
protected area was created thanks to our little giant anteater named Dumbo!
His mother was killed on a highway, but he thrived under human care with TamanduASAS. We placed a GPS harness on him last May and was he was released on a private ranch. At the end of February we traveled to Uberlandia in Minas Gerais to celebrate with our partners the creation of this new private protected area for giant anteaters!
Dumbo, really inspired the owner of the land where he was freed and he decided to make sure he would always have native habitat to live in. During a ceremony with local authorities he signed a decree to set aside 300 hectares of native habitat. Under Brazilian law, this land will forever be protected. This habitat could also be the first step in creating a corridor to a State Park. This is truly a wonderful success story of conservationists and landowners working together. It demonstrates that in conservation team work and communication are key.
I am adding to this email our best of camera traps from the Cerrado which I hope you will enjoy and might distract you a bit. We just finished this twoyear study to learn more about giant anteaters and giant armadillos we sampled a total of 120 landscapes with 360 unique camera-trap locations on more than 60 rural properties and obtained a total of 333,058 camera-trap images. Overall, giant anteaters were present in 85 (71%) of 120 of the
landscapes and giant giant armadillos were in 49 (40%). We are currently analyzing this data.
I hope you, your family and love ones are all safe. The situation is unprecedented, so surreal that I cannot really find the right words to say.
Arnaud and the teams.