Maned wolf

The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is the largest South American canid, measuring between 125 and 150 cm in length. It is an easily recognizable fox by the length of its legs and ears and the slenderness of the body. Its fur is long and reddish brown, the ventral part, chin and the tip of the tail are white; the bottom of its feet and its long mane are black.

The maned wolf inhabits open areas in the pampas, grasslands and flooded forests associated with savannas of the Amazonian lowlands of northern La Paz and the Departments of Beni and Santa Cruz. National protected areas such as Madidi, Beni Biological Station and Noel Kempff Mercado protect populations of the species.

It is a nocturnal animal, generalist omnivore and opportunistic, and feeds mainly on fruits of the Solanaceae family, as well as medium and small mammals, such as the agouti, armadillos and rodents. It can also consume birds and reptiles and a variety of fruits and grasses depending on the resources available in their habitat. It has a particular technique for hunting, performing vertical jumps with its long legs in the tall grass in search of mice, cavies, birds and other small vertebrates.

Maned wolves are solitary and monogamous, sharing their territory only with their partner and offspring. Females give birth once a year and they have from 1 to 3 offspring, both parents are responsible forraising them. Olfactory communication (marked by urine) plays an important role in the social interaction of this species.

Existing scientific knowledge about the maned wolf in Bolivia is still limited, largely due to their elusive behavior and the difficulties of observing it. WCS studies obtained 60 records of the species in northern La Paz and Beni, through interviews with park rangers and local people, as well as film footage, vocalizations and signs. Based on this information, a biological landscape of the species was elaborated, identifying its distribution and preferred habitats. Another study in the country by Louise Emmons and colleagues suggests that maned wolf home range is between 40 and 80km2 and can walk up to 14 km/day.

The main threats to the conservation of maned wolves are habitat loss and degradation, mainly the fragmentation of savannah areas; and the transmission of native and introduced diseases that could affect their populations considering the low natural density of the species and scarce coverage of lowland savannas in the National Protected Areas System (SNAP).