2018 saw the highest number of Maned Wolf sightings in the Beni savanna of Barba Azul Nature Reserve (Bolivia) on record.
The Maned Wolf is the largest canid of South America. It is neither a wolf, like its name, nor a fox, like its appearance; it is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon, meaning ‘golden dog’.
They do not form packs like wolves or wild dogs, but hunt alone between dusk and midnight, which means they are rarely seen by humans. Their long legs and large ears are well adapted for hunting in the tall grasses of the savanna, where they listen out for prey and use their feet to tap the ground and flush out birds and small mammals.
Although the Beni savanna is the perfect habitat for Maned Wolf in Bolivia, with relatively few sightings previously it has been hard for WLT’s partner Asociación Armonía to monitor the population. However, as sightings are on the increase, it seems the population in Barba Azul is doing very well.
It was a good year all around for wildlife in the savanna, with the creation of the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve by Asociación Armonía, and a new type of nestbox in Barba Azul for endangered macaws.
Asociación Armonía have been studying the breeding ecology of the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw for a long time, running a successful nestbox programme in the now-named Laney Rickman Reserve for many years. Barba Azul is an important feeding habitat for the macaws but, so far, the birds have not been recorded breeding there.
After observing wild macaws nesting at the top of tall Moriche Palms, the field team at Barba Azul built five artificial nestboxes mimicking the habitat, placing the nestboxes at the top of 12 metre high Eucalyptus posts and erecting them in exposed locations, which the birds seem to prefer.
Barba Azul Reserve Manager, Tjalle Boorsma, says “Three out of the five located nest boxes are already occupied by bird species: American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), White Woodpecker (Melanerpes candidus) and Chopi Blackbird (Gnorimopsar chopi). Breeding has not yet been confirmed.
“As the Blue-throated Macaw have had little chance to discover the nest boxes, we expect usage from 2019 onwards. As Macaws are highly intelligent birds, we expect that once they discovered this breeding possibility, their traditional behaviour of leaving Barba Azul to breed will change and they will successfully use these new boxes. This has been clearly shown in the southern subpopulation (Loreto), where the Blue-throated Macaws are now using Armonía’s nest boxes for over a decade.”
WLT supports Asociación Armonía protecting wildlife in the Beni savanna through the Action Fund and by supporting the salary of a wildlife ranger in Barba Azul through the Keepers of the Wild programme.
In 2018, donations to the Action Fund supported the purchase of 596 acres of the overall 1,680 needed to create the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, alongside American Bird Conservancy, Asociación Armonía, International Conservation Fund of Canada, and IUCN Netherlands.
To support important land purchases like these, pledge a monthly donation to the Action Fund and become a WLT Friend »