Estación Biológica Cocha Cashu
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Rare and endangered carnivores of Amazonia: Research and Conservation of the giant otter and the short-eared dog


Principal Investigators:
Maria Renata Pereira Leite-Pitman

Lisa Clare Davenport

Center for Tropical Conservation
Duke University Box 90381
Durham, NC 27708-0381


This project aims to promote conservation of the Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) and the Short-Eared Dog (Atelocynus microtis), in one of the largest and most pristine rainforest areas of the world, in the Manú National Park (Perú) and the adjacent Alto Purús reserved zone. The choice to focus on these two species is based on two overriding concerns. The first is the extreme paucity of basic ecological data that exists on these two carnivores, and the second is their known susceptibility to human presence, in particular because they are vulnerable to diseases spread by domestic dogs (i.e., canine distemper and parvovirus).We are investigating the animals' basic ecology, habitat needs, regional distribution and potential threats. Based on results of this research a strategy for conservation of these two species will be proposed to the park authorities. Part of our conservation plan is to improve long-term viability of the populations of these two predators by highlighting their special needs, including protection from diseases of domestic dogs, and large, intact areas of habitat. Ultimately we hope to engage park authorities in a plan to elevate the status of the Alto Purús reserve zone to a stronger category of protection, and through education and outreach, to elevate the appreciation of these charismatic animals to the status of "flagship species" for the newly-created protected area.
Funding has been provided by Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, IdeaWild, Wildlife Materials and British Airways.