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This historic mammal has been considered an vulnerable species since 2002. Pacheco says that about 15 years ago when she was an undergraduate in biology at the University of San Simón, she began noticing that it was getting hard to see the armadillos in the wild. “It doesn’t really matter the name of the species you have,” he says. In contrast, the endangered giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) can be 1.5 metres (5 feet) long and weigh 30 kg (66 pounds). They noted that its populations are “steadily declining because of their overexploitation for traditional purposes.”, Delsuc says it’s up to the local Oruro government to protect the animals. An assessment by the IUCN in 2014 estimated that during the previous decade, the number of Andean hairy armadillos fell by more than 30 percent throughout their range. “As a scientist, I just did my job, I think,” he says. Exclusion. The recent formation of the Isthmus of Panama allowed a few members of the family to migrate northward into southern North America by the early Pleistocene, as part of the Great American Interchange. In other words, these animals won’t give up easily. Local people “just love them,” Pacheco says. The creatures are one of the star attractions of the carnival in Oruro, a city in western Bolivia, which takes place every year around Mardi Gras. Mammals are animals that have hair and feed milk to their young. Although one species — the three-banded armadillo — can roll itself into a ball, none of the others can do so. This is due to many different reasons including human encroachment, slash and burn farming, and hunting. It’s why, just a few years after finishing her thesis, she says she’s given up studying the armadillos. But these reclassifications have helped, not hurt, the “new” species, spurring conservation efforts. “If you want to still have armadillos in Bolivia, you need to protect the local populations. Many of them also eat bits of flesh from dead animals when they can find them. She now focuses on large carnivores—the puma, jaguar, the Andean bear—which, she says, have the advantage of being “high profile.”. What might the future hold for Andean hairy armadillos? Refer to 3 CSR 10-4.130 Owner May Protect Property; Public Safety of the Code for details and restrictions. “Not at all.”, Along with their argument for reclassifying the species, the researchers issued a warning: Despite the taxonomic change, the Andean hairy armadillo should be protected. In Bolivia, it’s illegal to hunt or trade Andean hairy armadillos, and in 2015, in an effort to stop poaching, it became illegal to sell or own a new armadillo rattle. Superina says she’s working with authorities in Chile, where the animals face illegal trafficking, to make sure the armadillos remain protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the body that regulates global trade in wildlife. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The Andean hairy armadillo was first described as a separate species in 1894, based on the skin and fragmented skull of a young adult from the Oruro area housed in the Natural History Museum, in London, England. People seem to have a tendency to save only the “cute” animals, but each one is as important as any other. Armadillos have the ability to climb and burrow. ), The Bolivian government still considers the Andean hairy armadillo to be endangered. Their closest living relatives are sloths and anteaters. Their “use is cultural, and knowing that the risk of extinction is less will tend to greater exploitation of the species and will reduce conservation efforts,” she wrote in an email. But, Pacheco says, once animals are no longer considered threatened by the IUCN, it’s hard for researchers to get funding to study them. More than a century later, scientists have had second thoughts. Giant armadillos are an endangered species The giant armadillo has lived on Earth since ancient times. Endangered armadillos are being turned into carnival rattles, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/02/endangered-armadillos-poached-for-annual-carnival-of-oruro.html. Why does this page even exist?” Well, here is your answer. Armadillo teeth do not have the hard white enamel coating that protects the teeth of other mammals. And the armadillos have a co-dependent relationship with the vegetation in their sandy-soil habitat: Roots of plants anchor the soil, preventing the burrows from caving in, and armadillo dung provides nutrients that help sustain the plants. Delsuc acknowledges that people might use the armadillo’s “least concern” status as an excuse for overexploitation. The IUCN acted on the recommendation and removed the Andean hairy armadillo from its “red list” of threatened species. For 2019, he says, no one has proposed a change to the armadillo’s trade status. They use them to help in digging, or to tear apart rotting wood to find food. Of the twenty species of armadillo, only one — the nine-banded armadillo — appears to be increasing in number. There are twenty different species of armadillos. According to Tom De Meulenaer, CITES’s chief of scientific services, the Andean hairy armadillo is—for now—safe from international trade. In fact, during those two years working in the Oruro area, he saw only two. To Pacheco, however, the Andean hairy armadillo’s plight is of great concern. They have short, strong legs that are well suited to rapid digging, either for food or for shelter. Gabriela Huayta Sarzuri, an armadillo researcher under Pacheco’s guidance at the University of San Simón, believes that the IUCN’s reclassification puts Andean hairy armadillos at great risk. “Aren’t there thousands of them all over the southwest?” The answer is yes — there are quite a few armadillos in the United States and Mexico. Like all of the Xenarthra lineages, armadillos originated in South America. Recently, taxonomists proposed that the Andean hairy armadillo—previously considered a separate species—should be lumped together with a more common species, the screaming hairy armadillo (it screeches when it feels threatened). It lives in the Amazon basin and adjacent grasslands. “In less than 30 years, they were basically wiped out from part of the habitat,” she says. All rights reserved. Andean hairy armadillos, unlike other armadillos around the world, live at high altitudes—around 12,000 feet—mostly in the Bolivian Andes but also in Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Pacheco says they’re hardy creatures, able to survive cold temperatures in high-altitude habitats—realms most humans want to avoid. Contrary to what you may have heard, the armadillo is neither a rodent nor a marsupial, and they are not related to the opossum any more than you are. As the procession advances, the dancers twist the wooden handles on their matracas, or rattles, which make a hollow, clattering sound.

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