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Unlike other members of the canidae family, the maned wolf is actually a loner, only coming together in monogamous pairs once a year for mating, within a territory spanning some 12 square miles. Although commonly called a wolf, it is of a different genus – chrysocyon rather than canis. The body appears that of a canid with a head and tail of a fox and deer like legs making it an endearing, rather sad looking creature.
It is endemic in the Cerrado region of Brazil expanding out to parts Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. This is a vast tropical savannah ecoregion, second only to the Amazon rainforest, with space abounding – at the moment – for this lone animal! Alas the savannah is being destroyed at a rate four times that of the Amazon rainforest to accommodate vast tracts of land for soya and cattle farming.
Paradoxically, the Cerrado has acquired its first luxury wildlife lodge, the seven bedroom Pousada Trijunção. (The ins and outs of ecotourism will be discussed later). The lodge sits in an 81,000 acre private reserve, and runs its own conservation programme for the maned wolf, making it the only place where you can almost guarantee a sighting. Even Paignton Zoo in Devon cannot guarantee a sighting of this shy, retiring, usually nocturnal animal.
This blog acts as a brief introduction to the maned wolf and will be continued next week. In the meantime here is a peek!