Giant Anteater Research starts in 3 new communities
October - November, 2020
With funding from GEF’s Small Grants Programme (SGP) and The Sustainable Management Programme – Guyana (SWM), SRCS has started an ambitious new 2-year project to research and protect Giant Anteaters in the South Rupununi.
As well as continuing our work in Katoonarib Village, we have started working with the indigenous villages of Sawariwau and Shulinab and the ranch outstation of Wariwau.
We have already completed household surveys in each community to try to understand the long and complex history of human-anteater interactions in the South Rupununi.
This month, new ranger-researchers from each community will be trained by SRCS. By the end of November they will have placed 62 camera traps over a massive area of savannah and bush, they will have started monitoring anteaters in the field and village 'anteater boards' will be up and running.
Thanks to our FUNDERS, PARTNER VILLAGES and RANGER-RESEARCHERS for all your work and support.
Good News: camera trapping estimates strong anteater population
Our first year of giant anteater research has yielded some fantastic results. Here are the highlights:
- New rangers were trained in Katoonarib Villages to be responsible for all anteater-related activities
- 13 camera traps were placed in bush islands, savannah and river edge, specifically targeted to record giant anteaters
- Rangers went out on horseback, motorbike and bicycle to find and record anteaters
- Village household surveys recorded a long history of anteater-human interactions and a support for conservation in Katoonarib.
By analysing each photo and film taken, we were able to identify 26 individual anteaters in the Katoonarib area. That is great news! We were also able to observe anteaters climbing and scratching trees in a way that we think has not been studied elsewhere.
These are all positive indications that our studies of giant anteaters are only just beginning - next year we will be looking for partners to continue our work.
Giant Anteater Training
At the end of September, rangers from Katoonarib Village joined the Red Siskin Rangers for a 4-day training workshop at Wichabai Ranch.
The rangers were trained by the SRCS core team on how to use and set up camera traps, conduct household surveys, GPS use, and how to use the data collection application KoBo Collect.
The rangers will now return to Katoonarib where they will conduct household surveys with the villagers. The aim of the surveys is to improve knowledge about perceptions, attitudes, traditional knowledge and common habitat locations for Giant Anteaters
New Focus on Giant Anteaters
The SRCS recognises that the South Rupununi is going through a critical transformation.
On one hand, increasing populations, changing attitudes towards the land and perhaps changing climate is increasing pressure on land and resources. As a group, SRCS has observed how fish stocks are becoming depleted, wild game is decreasing in number and forests are increasingly being destroyed as dry season fires ravage the land.
On the other hand there is a local, national and international drive towards sustainability: the Wapichan Wiizi movement is ‘thinking together for those coming behind us’, The South Central People’s Development Association is dedicated to securing and sustainably managing Wapichan territories, and most recently the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme is being implemented in the Rupununi with a model of ‘sustainable wildlife and fisheries management in multiple use savannah-forest landscapes’.
The Giant Anteater perfectly represents this conflict: as traditional fish and game are depleted and habitats destroyed, the anteater is increasingly hunted for meat; yet it is an iconic animal in this part of South America and could be a banner species for research, conservation and tourism.
SRCS wishes to “through adaptation, sustain a healthy environment for people, plants and animals of the Rupununi”. Better understanding and maintaining this fantastic species in the South Rupununi will be a great contribution to our vision.
The Sustainable Wildlife Programme, Guyana has been able to fund a pilot study in 2019-2020. In mid 2020 we aim to launch a full-scale research and conservation effort.