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Anteaters and Highways Project

Expanding out from the award winning research that has revealed so much about the elusive giant armadillo, Dr Arnaud Desbiez and his team have turned their attention to another iconic South American mammal, the giant anteater.

The giant anteater is currently listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List. More than half of their scrub forest and grassland habitat in the Brazilian Cerrado has been lost to agriculture over the last 35 years. The remaining habitat is becoming increasingly fragmented by roads and highways, leading to a high mortality rate through vehicle collisions. Giant anteaters are among the animals most frequently killed on these roads, and road accident fatalities now pose a serious threat to the species’ long-term survival.

Giant anteater is released with a GPS tracking device as part of the Anteaters and Highways project

To address the threat, the team have launched the Anteaters & Highways initiative to collect anteater road interaction data and help protect the species in the wild. The research aims to quantify the impact of roads on giant anteater populations and evaluate potential knock-on effects on the species’ behavior, population structure, and health. The team are also investigating whether roads in the Cerrado are affecting anteater population persistence through the creation of population sinks and barriers to gene flow.

Research results will provide insight into anteater movement patterns, inform road management strategies in Brazil, and help save an iconic New World species.

For more information about the project, please visit: http://www.giantanteater.org/

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Project Gallery

  • A mother anteater with her baby on her back, walking in the Cerrado

  • One of the many highways that fragment the anteater's Cerrado habitat

  • A member of the Anteater and Highways team record a capybara highway fatality

  • Arnaud and his team fit a giant anteater with a GPS tracking device

  • The team perform a sample collection necropsy at the side of the highway

  • Working with local ranch owners to help raise awarness of the threat to wildlife from highway fatalities

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