Arnaud's Armadillo Diaries

Arnaud Desbiez is a conservation biologist who has been working in the Brazilian Pantanal since 2002. RZSS has been funding Arnaud's work since 2005, and he was made our Regional Conservation and Research Coordinator for Latin America in 2010. During the summer of 2011 Arnaud recorded a video diary of his search to find the elusive Giant Armadillo in the Pantanal. Each of the 11 episodes will be launched exclusively on the Members Portal a week before going live on the main RZSS websites and video channels.


1: The Search Begins

2: The Prickly Haystack

3: Out in the Field

4: Termites

5: Pantanal Wildlife

6: Fresh Tracks

7: Driving in the Pantanal

8: Setting the Trap

9: The Transmitter

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10: Monitoring

11: 2012 Update

12: Kevin Shafer pt1

13: Kevin Shafer pt2



The protection of wetlands and related biodiversity is considered of global importance. The Pantanal is the world's largest freshwater wetland and in recent years it has become increasingly threatened by large development programmes and changes in land management practices. Since 2005, the RZSS Pantanal Conservation and Research initiative has been conducting scientific research to create, implement and evaluate conservation actions and sustainable land management strategies. Results from the Pantanal are used to promote conservation throughout Brazil and internationally.

In partnership with IPE (Institute for Ecological Research) RZSS, as well as North American and European zoos, participates in the Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project which is a long term ecological study on the secretive giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) about which virtually nothing is known.

After almost two years of preparation the Pantanal Giant Armadillo project started in June 2011. This is currently the only project in the world to be focused on this species. Although giant armadillos range over much of South America almost nothing is known about them and most information is anecdotal. Due to its cryptic behaviour and low population densities, this animal is very rarely seen. The giant armadillo is currently classified as Vulnerable (A2cd) by the IUCN/SSC Red List of Threatened Species.

The main goal of the project is to investigate the ecology and biology of the species and understand its function in the ecosystem using radio transmitters, camera traps, burrow surveys, resource monitoring, resource mapping and interviews. In 2011 from June to December five giant armadillos were captured. Because the species is so rare, it is very very difficult to find.

The project is integrating its findings into local and National initiatives. At the end of 2012 the first steps to evaluate and use data to assess the status of giant armadillos according to the IUCN/SCC red list criteria will be taken. Data will also be compiled for population viability analysis.

RZSS work on many different fronts in Brazilian, the Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project being one of them. To learn more about the RZSS Pantanal Conservation and Research Initiative and the other work it conducts visit the RZSS website.

For more information on the RZSS Pantanal Conservation and Research Initiative please visit:

This project would not be possible without funding from the following donors:

Association Beauval Recheche et Conservation (France)
l´Association Jean-Marc Vichard pour la Conservation (France)
Bergen County Zoo (USA)
Cerza Zoo (France)
Chester zoo (UK)
Columbus Zoo (USA)
Conservation des Espèces et des Populations Animales (CEPA) (France)
Idea Wild (USA)
Oklahoma City Zoo (USA)
Nashville Zoo (USA)
Natural Resources (MMA) (UK)
Papoose Conservation Wildlife Foundation (USA)
Phoenix Zoo, (USA)
Prins Bernhard fund for Nature (Holland)
Sea World Busch Gardens (USA)
Taronga Zoo (Australia)
Taiwan Forestry Bureau (Taiwan)
Private donation: George Rabb.
Zoo Conservation Outreach Group
(ZCOG) and its partners: the Chattanooga Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo, Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens, Salisbury Zoo-Chesapeake AAZK,   and the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium.



Further RZSS Videos

You can enjoy more videos from the RZSS, Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park by visiting:

Edinburgh Zoo Youtube Channel

Highland Wildlife Park Youtube Channel