Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project

To establish a long-term ecological study of giant armadillos in Brazil


The giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) is the largest of the armadillo species and can reach up to 150 cm and weigh up to 50 kg. Although giant armadillos range over much of South America, almost nothing is known about them and most information is anecdotal. Due to its cryptic behaviour and low population densities, this animal is very rarely seen. The giant armadillo is threatened with extinction and is currently classified as Vulnerable (A2cd) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


This project aims to establish the first long-term ecological study of giant armadillos in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland, and other Brazilian biomes in the future. The main goal of the project is to investigate the ecology and biology of the species and understand its function in the ecosystem using radio transmitters, camera traps, burrow surveys, resource monitoring, resource mapping and interviews.


The project was initiated in June 2011. Since then eight individuals have been captured. In June 2012, we have expanded the epidemiological study to other species of armadillos present in the study site, which include six-banded armadillos (Euphractus sexcinctus), nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) and southern naked-tailed armadillos (Cabassous unicinctus). In 2013, the epidemiological study will be expanded to southern tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla) and giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). The ecological study will also be expanded to giant anteaters, whose niche seems to overlap extensively with giant armadillos.


Throughout the project we continue liaising with national and international media, preparing scientific publications of our findings and providing training for Brazilian nationals in the field. We also welcome anyone interested in xenarthrans to come visit us in the field at the Baía das Pedras Ranch. The project is fully integrated in local and national conservation initiatives, and we liaise with local and national authorities on project results and implications.


WAZA Conservation Project 12005 is a partnership between a Scottish charity (the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland), a Brazilian NGO (IPE – Institute for Ecological Research) and a private cattle ranch Baía das Pedras. The project depends entirely on conservation grants. The project donors are: Association Beauval Recherche et Conservation; l'Association Jean-Marc Vichard pour la Conservation; Bergen County Zoo; Cerza Zoo; Chester Zoo; Columbus Zoo; Conservation des Espèces et des Populations Animales (CEPA); Idea Wild Oklahoma City Zoo; Prins Bernhard Fund for Nature; Phoenix Zoo; Sea World Busch Gardens; Taronga Zoo; Taiwan Forestry Bureau; Zoo Conservation Outreach Group and its partners, the Chattanooga Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo, Salisbury Zoo–Chesapeake AAZK and San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium.




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