Brazilian wildlife: an encounter with a maned wolf

November 04, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), Parque Nacional da Serra da Canastra, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

I have been wanting to see a maned wolf for a long time, but this is not an easy feat. However, a few days ago it finally happened. I was able to get to within about 100 m of a maned wolf without being detected. I set up my tripod and camera in the grassland, sat down, and watched the animal catch flying insects and digging up rodents for about 40 minutes. When catching flying insects, perhaps grasshoppers, it seemed like the maned wolf was dancing -- leaping into the air with its front legs and then catching the insects with its mouth...  it made me think of a movie from over 20 years ago... "Dances with Wolves". It heard my shutter every now and then and would look at me briefly. Finally the animal was done hunting and set course for me. It had been aware of me for quite some time, didn't know what to make of me, so it decided to check me out. It came really close... up to about 8 meters! The animal put its tail up, potentially indicating a higher level of alertness or interest or both. It was hard to operate the camera and not show too much movement, which would scare the animal. It did not appear afraid of me but when I had to shift my position slightly to continue to track the animal with my lens, I startled it. It looked at me once more for a few seconds but still didn't run away. It continued on its path through the grasslands (which had burned about 2 months ago, resulting in regrowth of bright green grasses). The short green grass made for a nice backdrop in the photos. When I stood up, it did get nervous and ran away, right into the path of my dad, my wife and our guide. They had been watching the entire encounter through their binoculars, but then the wolf and I had dropped into a gully and they had no idea the maned wolf was headed towards them until it ran by, about 30 meters away from them. About 15 minutes later the wolf passed by again, this time in an unburnt part of the area (see images below). For me, it was an amazing encounter... definitely unforgettable!

Click here for more images of the maned wolf.

Click here for more images of Serra da Canastra National Park.

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