The giant anteater is an iconic South American mammal listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The forests and grasslands of the Brazilian Cerrado biome have been strongholds for giant anteaters; however, during the last 35 years, more than half of the Cerrado has been converted into pasture and agricultural lands. The remaining habitat has been dissected by an ever increasing network of roads and highways, which are inflicting significant damage on the giant anteater population. In fact, the giant anteater is now among the species most killed on roadways in the Cerrado.
To address the threat, ANTEATERS & HIGHWAYS launched a project to collect anteater road interaction data and help protect the species in the wild. Specifically, the research is designed to quantify the impact of roads on giant anteater populations and evaluate their effect on the species’ behavior, population structure, and health. The project team is also investigating whether roads in the Cerrado are affecting anteater population persistence by acting as population sinks and barriers to gene flow.