September 13, 2014
When you think about the Mega-fauna that inhabits the Amazonian Basin, species like the Jaguar, Red-brocket deer, Capybaras and Tapirs come to mind. But, did you know that there are dogs in the forest?
The Short-eared Dog (Atelocynus microtis), one of the rarest and most secretive species of the neo-tropics, actually inhabits most of the Amazonian Basin. While the name implies for a large canid, this dog actually looks like a lot like a fox. It has short and rounded limbs and it is covered with a black-grayish short, thick and bristly fur.
There biggest study ever conducted on this species, is currently being done in Manu National Park, in the Cocha Cashu Biological Station. The Biologist, who has been studying this species for the last few years, has actually never seen one walking free! That is how rare they are. With the use of camera traps, GPS chips, Radio Collars and feces examination, the team has been able to shed light on many of the secret behaviours of this almost mythical creature.
Over the last years the team has been able to determine the diet of wild dog. Who would have guessed that fish made up to 30% of their diet!? An aquatic dog, go figure!
The full diet of the Short-eared Wolf consists of the following:
Fish 28%, insects 17%, small mammals 13%, various fruits 10%, birds 10%, crabs 10%, frogs 4%, reptiles 3%.
Sadly there is still a lot we don’t know about this –and many more – species. To understand the natural history and ecological relationships between species is the first step in order to be able to successfully manage and conserve them.