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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The maned wolf hunts primarily at night, and during dusk and dawn hours, while the days are often spent resting, often in areas of thick bush cover (5). The diet consists of a wide variety of fruits and small mammals, such as armadillos and rabbits, but also includes occasional pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), birds, reptiles, insects, fish and arthropods (1). The maned wolf's main source of food is the tomato-like lobeira fruit, which grows throughout its range and is thought to provide medicinal aid against the giant kidney worm, Dioctophyme renate (1) (5). Scavenging on road-kill also occurs and free-ranging chickens are frequently stolen from farms (8). Unlike other wolves that live in cooperative breeding packs, the maned wolf is primarily solitary (10). Although the basic social unit is the male-female mated pair, which share a home range typically between 25 to 50 square kilometres (11), these individuals remain fairly independent of one another and only closely associate during the breeding season from April to June (5) (6) (8). The female gives birth to a litter of one to five pups each year (average of three) between June and September (6) (8). Originally, it was believed that the female alone cared for the young, suckling them for up to 15 weeks (3). However, in captivity males have been observed grooming and defending pups, as well as feeding them by regurgitation. Pups reach sexual maturity and disperse from their natal home range at around one year old, but do not usually reproduce until the second year (8). Captive individuals have lived up to 16 years (8).
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Description

Standing at almost a metre tall, the maned wolf is the largest Canid in South America and the only member of its genus, Chrysocyon (5) (6). With a golden-red coat, long pointed muzzle and large erect ears (7), it is similar in appearance to the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) (3). However, its extremely long, thin legs make the maned wolf immediately recognisable and, with its fox-like attributes, have earned it the epithet 'a fox on stilts' (2). This distinctive feature is thought to be an adaptation to help the animal see above the tall grass of its habitat (5). The common name, 'maned wolf', is derived from the characteristic mane-like strip of black fur running from the back of the head to the shoulders (8), which stands erect when danger is sensed (7). The muzzle and lower legs are black, while the throat, inside of the ears and tip of the tail are white (7) (8).
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Distribution

The maned wolf is distributed from the mouth of the Parnaiba River in northeastern Brazil west to the Pampas del Heath in Peru and South through the Chaco of Paraguay to Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Its former range included parts of Uruguay and Argentina.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

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Range Description

The Maned Wolf inhabits the grasslands and scrub forest of central South America from the mouth of the Parnaiba River in north-eastern Brazil, south through the Chaco of Paraguay into Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil, and west to the Pampas del Heath in Peru (Dietz 1985). Beccaceci (1992) found evidence of Maned Wolves in Argentina as far south as the 30th parallel, and a sighting in the province of Santiago del Estero was recently reported (Richard et al. 1999). They probably range into northern Uruguay. Their presence in this country was confirmed through a specimen trapped in 1990 (Mones and Olazarri 1990), but there have not been any reports of sightings since that date (S. Gonzalez pers. comm.).
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Historic Range:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay

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Range

The maned wolf is found in central South America, from north-eastern Brazil, south through Paraguay and west into Peru (1). It is also found in small areas of Argentina and Bolivia, and may still be present in some areas of Uruguay, despite being believed to be extinct there in the 19th century (5) (8).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Chrysocyon brachyurus is a stunning animal. The largest of all South American canids, it stands almost one meter tall at the shoulder and has a long, golden-red coat. Head and body length ranges from 1245 to 1320mm and tail length from 280 to 405mm. The long thin legs, which may serve to help the maned wolf to see above tall grass, grade from red to black at their lower portions. The anterior part of the erectile mane of long hairs is black as well. The body is narrow and the ears large and erect. The dentition of the maned wolf reflects its food habits. As this animal does not kill or eat large prey, its upper carnassials (shearing teeth) are reduced, its upper incisors weak, and its canines are long and slender.

Range mass: 20 to 23 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Chrysocyon brachyurus is found in grassland, savanna, dry shrub forest, swampy areas, forest-edge habitat, and river areas.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Maned Wolves favour tall grasslands, shrub habitats, woodland with an open canopy (cerrado), and wet fields (which may be seasonally flooded). Some evidence indicates that they may prefer areas with low to medium shrub density (Bestelmeyer 2000). Maned Wolves are also seen in lands under cultivation for agriculture and pasture. Daytime resting areas include gallery forests (Dietz 1984), cerrado and marshy areas near rivers (Bestelmeyer 2000; F. Rodrigues unpubl.). There is some evidence that they can utilize cultivated land for hunting and resting (A. Jácomo and L. Silveira, unpubl.), but additional studies are essential in order to quantify how well the species tolerates intensive agricultural activity.

Omnivorous, consuming principally fruits and small- to medium-sized vertebrates. Numerous authors (Dietz 1984; Carvalho and Vasconcellos 1995; Motta-Júnior et al. 1996; Azevedo and Gastal 1997; Motta-Júnior 1997; Rodrigues et al. 1998; Jácomo 1999; Santos 1999; Silveira 1999; Juarez and Marinho 2002; F. Rodrigues unpubl.) have investigated the diet of the Maned Wolf. These studies have all found a wide variety of plant and animal material in the diet, with about 50% of the diet comprising plant material and 50% animal matter. The fruit Solanum lycocarpum grows throughout much of the range and is a primary food source; other important items include small mammals (Caviidae, Muridae, Echimydae) and armadillos, other fruits (Annonaceae, Myrtaceae, Palmae, Bromeliaceae and others), birds (Tinamidae, Emberizidae and others), reptiles and arthropods. Although the frequency of plant and animal items found in faecal samples is approximately equal, the biomass of animal items is usually greater than that of plant items (Motta-Júnior et al. 1996; Santos 1999; F. Rodrigues unpubl.). Certain items, such as rodents and Solanum, are consumed year round, but the diet varies with food availability. At least occasionally, pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus) are also consumed (Bestelmeyer and Westbrook 1998). In Jácomo's (1999) study, deer appeared in 2.4% of 1,673 samples analysed.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The maned wolf prefers open habitats in tall grasslands, low-scrub edges of forests and even swampy areas (2). In Brazil, this species is found in the cerrado, a large area of open woodland and savannah that is one of the world's most important 'hot-spots' of biodiversity (9).
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Trophic Strategy

The maned wolf is omnivorous. It eats armadillos, rabbits, rodents and other small mammals, fish, birds, bird eggs, reptiles, gastropods and other terrestrial mollusks, insects, seasonably available fruits, and other vegetation. Fruits taken include bananas, guavas, and primarily the tomato-like Solanum lycocarpum. (S. lycocarpum may provide medicinal aid against Dioctophyme renale, a worm that infects the kidneys of the maned wolf). Vegetation eaten is often in the form of roots and bulbs. Vertebrate prey do not often include large domestic stock, but an occasional newborn lamb or pig is taken by Chrysocyon. The maned wolf, much to the dislike of poultry farmers, frequently feeds upon free-ranging chickens. It stalks and pounces in a fox-like manner upon its animal prey.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; fish; eggs; insects; mollusks

Plant Foods: roots and tubers; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
13.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 16.8 years (captivity) Observations: In captivity, these animals can live up to 16.8 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Maned wolves are monogamous, though males and females tend to live independently except during the breeding season.

Mating System: monogamous

Little is known about the reproductive patterns of wild maned wolves. Females are monoestrous. Breeding season is probably controlled by photoperiod; captives copulate between October and February in the Northern Hemisphere and between August and October in South America. The estrous lasts for a period of one to four days. Gestation in captivity is similar to that of other canids and lasts approximately 65 days. A litter usually contains one to five young. A record number of seven has been observed. Young are born weighing 340 to 430 grams and develop quickly. Their eyes and ears open by day nine, their ears stand upright and they will take regurgitated food by week four, the pelage changes from black to red by week ten, they are weaned by 15 weeks, and their bodies have the proportions of adults at one year, at which time they reach sexual maturity. Captive individuals have lived 15 years. Non-captive maned wolves give birth in natal nests hidden by thick vegetation. Wild maned wolves are rarely seen with their pups.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 5.

Average number of offspring: 2.47.

Range gestation period: 56 to 66 days.

Range weaning age: 120 to 210 days.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average birth mass: 368 g.

Average number of offspring: 3.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
730 days.

Parental Investment: altricial

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chrysocyon brachyurus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Chrysocyon brachyurus is listed as CITES Appendix II, U.S. ESA-Endangered, and IUCN-Vulnerable. Habitat destruction (including the annual burning of its grasslands), persecution by angry poultry farmers, hunting for sport, and live capture are factors that threaten the maned wolf. This animal disapeared from Uruguay in the 19th Century. Its former range also included parts of Argentina south of the La Plata River.

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Rodden, M., Rodrigues , F. & Bestelmeyer, S.

Reviewer/s
Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Near Threatened as the current global population is estimated to number ~13,000 mature individuals, and is thought likely to experience a continuing decline nearing 10% over the coming decade largely as a result of ongoing habitat loss and degradation, road kills and other threats (see Paula et al. 2008). Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion C.

History
  • 2004
    Near Threatened
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/near threatened
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
  • 1982
    Vulnerable
    (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 12/02/1970
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Chrysocyon brachyurus , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).
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Population

Population
A Population and Habitat Viability Assessment workshop held in 2005 estimated the total population of Maned Wolves at ~23,600 animals, including 21,745 in Brazil, 830 in Paraguay, and 660 in Argentina (Paula et al. 2008). Numbers in Bolivia are unlikely to exceed 1,000 animals.

With their primarily solitary habits and large home ranges, Maned Wolves are found in low densities throughout the range.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The most significant threat to Maned Wolf populations is the drastic reduction of habitat, especially due to conversion to agricultural land (Fonseca et al. 1994). In addition, habitat fragmentation causes isolation of subpopulations. Many Maned Wolves are killed on the nation's roads. Highways border many of the Conservation Units of the Brazilian cerrado, and drivers often do not respect speed limits. Reserves close to urban areas often have problems with domestic dogs. These dogs pursue and may kill Maned Wolves and can also be an important source of disease. Domestic dogs also possibly compete with the Maned Wolf for food. Interactions with humans also pose a threat to the Maned Wolf. Diseases, such as those mentioned above, can be important causes of mortality in the wild, but there is very little information available about the health of wild populations. In areas where there are domestic dogs, the problem is certainly greater.

There is no commercial use. Indications are that the use of Maned Wolf parts for medicinal purposes does not involve any sort of large-scale commercial transactions and is confined to native folk medicine.
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The most significant threat to the survival of remaining maned wolf populations is habitat loss (8). The conversion of land to agriculture has drastically reduced the available habitat for the maned wolf, with the cerrado of Brazil being reduced to about 20 percent of its original extent (8). In addition maned wolves are often killed on highways, frequently on those which border protected areas. Indeed, road kills are responsible for the death of approximately half the annual production of pups in some reserves (8). Domestic dogs also pose a threat by transferring diseases, competing for food, and even killing the maned wolf (1). Some local people attribute mystical qualities to several parts of the wolf's anatomy (eyes, skin, tail) and still hunt this threatened species in order to use these parts as 'talisman' or for medicinal remedies (6). Occasionally, this wolf is hunted for sport (5), and, due to the wolf's threat to domestic poultry, farmers also hunt it as a pest (6). As its habitat is encroached upon by ever-expanding farms, the wolf is forced into increased proximity with people, exacerbating the already-existing conflict (6).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is included on CITES Appendix II. Protected in Argentina (classified as Endangered on the Red List) and included on the list of threatened animals in Brazil (Bernardes et al. 1990). Hunting is prohibited in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. Maned wolves are protected by law in many parts of their range, but enforcement is frequently problematic. Included in the United States Endangered Species list.

The species occurs in many protected areas in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and, possibly, Peru.

Assessors are not aware of any conservation actions specific to the Maned Wolf. However, they are the beneficiaries of broader attempts to protect the cerrado (for example, recent actions to reduce the impact of road kills in Brasilia).

Occurrence in captivity
As of 31 December 1999, 144 institutions reported a total of 412 maned wolves in captivity, including 203 males and 209 females.

Gaps in knowledge
Population surveys throughout the species' range are needed. The impact of human encroachment on suitable habitat is not clearly understood, and the suitability of agricultural land as maned wolf habitat needs to be investigated. The impact of disease processes on wild populations is not well understood.
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Conservation

The maned wolf occurs in a number of protected areas across its range. Although protected by law in certain countries, with hunting prohibited in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, law enforcement is often problematic. At present, there are no known conservation actions specific to the maned wolf, but there are broader attempts to protect parts of its habitat and reduce the impact of animal road kills in Brazil (1). Encouragingly, observations indicate that the maned wolf is able to colonize different habitats and that the species' range has altered in configuration in recent years rather than diminished (12). This has, however, led these wolves into areas of greater proximity and conflict with humans, and education programmes have therefore been started to dissuade farmers from shooting this rare species (2). As of 2003, 146 institutions reported a total of 431 maned wolves in captivity, including 208 males and 222 females (8). However, for unknown reasons, canids breed poorly in captivity. Research has therefore been conducted into behaviour affecting hormones, nutrition and stress in captivity, as well as the use of modern reproductive technologies to aid the process (10). Future studies need to focus on population surveys throughout the species' range, as well as research into how human encroachment and habitat loss is impacting this distinctive canid (1).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

As mentioned above, the maned wolf takes domestic poultry and the occasional lamb or newborn pig.

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The maned wolf eats crop pests such as rabbits and small rodents.

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