Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

Each April for six consecutive years, Guilherme Braga Ferreira and three other researchers set out on a half-year journey, methodically installing remote camera traps across 386 square miles of the Brazilian Cerrado savanna. Their goal: to photograph maned wolves, giant anteaters, pumas, tapirs and other Neotropical mammals, residents of the world’s most biodiverse grasslands. The data would show where these animals lived and reveal how well they survived when living near humans. Ferreira and his team — ecologists from Instituto Biotrópicos, a Brazilian conservation nonprofit — deployed up to 70 cameras in carefully positioned arrays, concentrated at nine southeast Cerrado locations. The researchers split their surveillance between fully protected state and national parks and lesser-protected “mixed-use” areas where people live, ranch and farm. Then they counted the number of mammals living in each and ran the data through a computer model. In total, the researchers placed 517 camera traps in locations where mammals were most likely to be spotted — with each essentially becoming a selfie-station. When an animal walked past, it broke the infrared beam on the device, tripped the shutter and snapped its own photo. The researchers focused on 21 species that were big enough for the camera traps to record: those weighing at least 33 pounds, about the size of a small spaniel. (The Cerrado boasts over 250 mammals in all, with more than a dozen of them endemic.) The cameras documented these larger animals for an average of 50 days each year from 2012 to 2017, with…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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