The core of this project is the heart. As humans, we can understand that heart rate tells us a lot about our emotions and how we feel in each life situation. Since we don’t speak the “language” of animals, we need projects like this to better understand how they perceive their environments, so we can use that information to help them thrive.
How can this data support the conservation of maned wolves in the wild?
Only 3% of the natural habitat available for maned wolves in Brazil is inside protected areas. That means animals are also living in areas where encounters with humans, vehicles and farming machinery are common — and stress levels are higher. When sugar cane fields are harvested, for example, wolves can lose all their vegetation cover and food resources in less than 24 hours.
Having objective measurements of stress levels, and an understanding of where and how wolves move, could help us and land owners think about managing the land in ways that are more beneficial to wildlife. Our main goal is to become experts in the use of this technology, so we can apply it to the conservation of maned wolves and other endangered species in the wild. Studying the animals at SCBI has provided us with the skills we need, as well as the opportunity to overcome any obstacles in a controlled and safe environment.
What’s next for the Rhythm of Life Project?
This project is an excellent example of how much we can accomplish when we work as a team. We are physiologists, ecologists, biologists, veterinarians, animal care staff, students, donors, partners and more, all coming together to make this work possible. After a successful start, we’re expanding our scientific research at SCBI to other species, including eight scimitar-horned oryx. We proved that heart monitors can be safely used in maned wolves, and generated valuable information to compare with wild wolves. In 2021, we plan to start a field study with maned wolves in Brazil.
The Rhythm of Life Project was made possible with generous support from Medtronic.