Malnourished rescued maned wolves recover and return to nature in Bahia

Rescued in precarious conditions, malnourished and dehydrated, two maned wolves were released in western Bahia on Thursday (12). Nicknamed Baru and Caliandra, they went through a laborious process of rehabilitation and adaptation to learn to hunt and live in the wild before being released.

Maned wolves, an endangered species, were rescued in July 2020 in the rural area of ​​Luís Eduardo Magalhães, after a complaint. In addition to Baru and Caliandra, the little wolf Seriguela was found, which would also be returned to its natural habitat, but suffered an injury to its paw and was not approved for release until the wound healed. The three animals received the necessary care at Parque Vida Cerrado, a breeding site for wildlife animals, located in Barreiras.

Park coordinator, biologist Gabrielle Rosa explains that maned wolves are very docile and are even compared to a dog. Therefore, to prevent them from remaining tame and not surviving in nature, Baru and Caliandra were isolated, avoiding human contact as much as possible, in the enclosure on an agricultural property that is a reference in the adoption of sustainable practices by Luís Eduardo Magalhães.

“They arrived very young at the zoo in Brasília, 22 days old. They were hand fed and had very intense human contact, so we had to desensitize them. So their coming to the park, initially, was a necessary period for us to isolate them as much as possible. We changed the entire routine of the breeder, made an isolation so that the handlers and veterinarians had the least contact”, detailed the coordinator.

Before going to the enclosure at the farm in Oeste Bahia, the wolves needed to reach the normal growth and weight curve for the species. In the park, the animals were fed super premium dog food so they would gain weight and stay well nourished. There, however, they began to eat fruits such as cashew, mangaba and lobeira, the latter being the main fruit of the maned wolf and which they will consume throughout the year. It is during this period that the cubs begin to feed on live prey.

“Hunting is a behavior taught by father and mother and they didn’t have it. So, we needed to take their instinct and develop it over the ten months they were in the room. We start with small prey, like mice and quail, and then larger prey, like the rabbit. This was all approved by an ethics committee, because we needed them to learn how to hunt before being released”, Gabrielle pointed out.

In addition, the maned wolf is a territorialist species, which is why, according to the coordinator of Parque Vida Cerrado, the enclosure has an electric fence around it to prevent fights with other wolves. “At first, the resident animals found the wolves strange, but we noticed that the frequency of conflicts decreased, because the wolves from outside realized that Baru and Caliandra also live there”, he said.

Animal received an identification GPS (Photo: Calan Sanderson / Disclosure)

The two animals also received a radio-collar with GPS before release so that the team responsible for them can know where they are going, if they are returning to the enclosure and, mainly, if they have identified resource points for water and food. “The enclosure remains available for them until we realize that the animal is no longer returning and has managed to establish itself in the territory, then we can end the process of offering water and food”.

The biologist’s expectation is that Parque Vida Cerrado will be able to apply the same protocol used for the readaptation of Baru and Caliandra in other places and institutions. “We hope that the protocol works and that it is safe for the animals so that we can return them in less time to the place where they came from”, concluded Gabrielle.

The Parque Vida Cerrado
Parque Vida Cerrado, chosen to house the puppies before their release, has been in existence for 15 years, being the first and only socio-environmental conservation and education center in Western Bahia. The park is located in a 20-hectare preserved area of ​​the Cerrado biome, the richest savanna in the world in terms of biodiversity, and it also has a scientific breeding ground for conservation purposes. It is worth mentioning that the site does not have free public visitation, only monitored, which differentiates it from zoos.

*With guidance from the deputy head of reporting Monique Lôbo

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