Is it a red fox on stilts or an elegant, long-limbed wolf with a fox’s face? If you find yourself face-to-face with a maned wolf, then you can be forgiven for having these questions run through your mind. Maned wolves are a South American canid that are not in the genus Canis, but rather in the related genus Chrysocyon. For a truly vivid account of a maned wolf encounter, click on this BBC Program, Saving Species, then click on the “Listen Now” option for episode 31. The program is about 30 minutes long, but around 18 minutes and 30 seconds is a segment on the maned wolf. The narrator visits a monastery in Brazil where maned wolves emerge from the surrounding forest to take strips of meat right out of a priest’s hands. The first part of the story is a whispered affair where the narrator tells listeners about two maned wolves approaching the monastery for food. His descriptions are first rate. The second part talks about maned wolf habitat threats (agriculture and clearing of grasslands and woodlands). This second portion features an interview with Claudio Sillero, a canid conservationist at the Univ. of Oxford in the zoology department and chair of the IUCN Canid Specialist Group. Enjoy.
Posts Tagged ‘maned wolf’
How can you conserve a large carnivore when you don’t know how many of them exist? It’s a difficult task, and so a few scientists at the Jaguar Conservation Fund opted to put a number on their target population… only it’s not jaguars they were trying to pinpoint, it was the lesser known maned wolf.
The maned wolf is a quirky-looking wild dog relative that looks rather like an over grown red fox whose legs have been comically elongated. Or a skinny wolf on stilts. Though it is in the family Canidae, it’s not in the genus Canis as are true wolves… rather, it is in a related genus and is named Chrysocyon brachyurus. My reading of Tedford and Wang’s book, Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary Origins, indicates that these researchers believe the South American canines, including Chrysocyon, evolved from a group closely related to, but separate from, Canis.
Today, the maned wolf lives in Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia and northern Argentina where mated pairs maintain territories from 30 to 80 square kilometers, according to the study. But the pairs do not hunt together, rather they go after prey individually. The largest portion of the animals range lies within Brazil in what’s known as the Cerrado or Brazilian savannah. This area is being rapidly converted to cattle ranches and agriculture, the authors state. (more…)