AboutZoos, Since 2008


After seven year mon­i­tor­ing, rare bush dog filmed in Minas Gerais, Brazil

pub­lished 13 Novem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 13 Novem­ber 2012

Bush dog brasilAct­ing very with­drawn and show­ing habits which are prac­ti­cally unknown by sci­ence, the bush dog (Speothos venati­cus) — also called vine­gar dog, or savan­nah dog — is referred as a ‘ghost’ by researchers. This species was described in 1842 by the Dan­ish researcher Peter Lund, con­sid­ered to be the father of Brasil­ian pale­on­tol­ogy. Since then, the lat­est offi­cial record­ings, made in Minas Gerais state, were from the bush dog tracks and two dead ani­mals.

Last week, images of a liv­ing spec­i­men of the bush dog were recorded in the Veredas do Peru­açu State Park, in the north­ern part of Minas Gerais state. This was achieved through ‘photo traps’ set up, which is part of sci­en­tific mon­i­tor­ing made pos­si­ble by a part­ner­ship between WWF-​Brasil and the Biotrop­i­cos Institute.

We were try­ing to record this species in this region for seven years now. I sim­ply could not believe it when I saw the images
Guil­herme Fer­reira, biol­o­gist, Biotrópi­cos Insti­tute »

ARKive photo - Bush dog at night

The bush dog fea­tures dark brown fur, an elon­gated body mea­sur­ing up to 70 cm long, short paws and ears, and weighs approx­i­mately 5 kilo­grammes. This animal’s urine has a strong vine­gar smell and that explains why it is also known as ‘vine­gar dog’. This species is found in the Cer­rado, the Atlantic For­est and the Ama­zon bio­mes in Brasil. It is one of the small­est and most social ani­mals from the Canidae fam­ily in South Amer­ica, liv­ing in per­ma­nent packs com­posed of up to ten bush dogs.

“The pack allows the group to hunt large preys. This behav­iour is not observed in other species, such as the maned wolf, the pam­pas fox or the hoary fox”, says Fred­erico Lemos, from Goiás Fed­eral Uni­ver­sity.

This species is in a vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tion in Brasil and it is crit­i­cally threat­ened in Minas Gerais state. It is listed as Near Threat­ened by the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species. The main threats include defor­esta­tion, con­flicts with human pop­u­la­tion, hunt­ing, and dis­eases trans­mit­ted by pets.

That is why it is so impor­tant to keep pro­tected areas con­nected with eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dors, to ensure that rural prop­er­ties com­ply with the leg­is­la­tion, and to take care of domes­tic ani­mal health through­out the Peru­açu Val­ley, where the bush dog was recorded. The Peru­açu River is a trib­u­tary to the São Fran­cisco River.

This region is part of the Sertão Veredas-​Peruaçu Mosaic of Pro­tected Areas, which occu­pies nearly 2 mil­lion hectares in north­ern Minas Gerais and south­west Bahia. Accord­ing to Michael Becker, WWF-Brasil’s Con­ser­va­tion Direc­tor, this find­ing rein­forces the rel­e­vance of pro­tected areas for the Cer­rado biome.

“This record (made of the bush dog) clar­i­fies the role of the pro­tected areas, par­tic­u­larly in the Cer­rado, a biome with less than 3% of its area being effec­tively safe­guarded by pub­lic pow­ers. New inter­na­tional tar­gets for bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion call for pro­tected areas to cover at least 17% of every ter­res­trial biome”, empha­sised Michael Becker.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at WWF Brasil. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.
(Source: WWF Brasil News, 23.10.2012)

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