ARMADILLOS
Brazilian three-banded armadillo
Tolypeutes tricinctus
RANGE

T. tricinctus is endemic to Brazil, where it has been recorded from the states of Bahia, Ceará, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Piauí, Mato Grosso (extreme central eastern portion), Goiás (extreme north), Minas Gerais (extreme north-west), Tocantins (eastern portion), Paraíba, and Rio Grande do Norte.


DESCRIPTION
HABITAT

T. tricinctus mainly occurs in caatinga habitat (dry thorn scrub of north-eastern Brazil), but it is also found in the eastern parts of cerrado habitat (bush savanna in central Brazil).

BIOLOGY

This species was believed to be extinct until its rediscovery in the early 1990s in a handful of scattered localities. It has probably disappeared over much of its range, but it is difficult to survey its populations (Nowak, 1999).
It is not fossorial and has the habit, when threatened, of rolling into an easily portable ball. This armadillo has a patchy distribution; population densities may be relatively high within certain patches (J. Marinho-Filho, pers. comm., 2010), except in areas where the species is exposed to human pressure.
Population densities have been estimated at 0.97 individuals/km2 but are expected to be considerably lower in areas with hunting pressure. Significant habitat loss has been recorded in its range, especially in the Cerrado.

THREATS

T. tricinctus is threatened by heavy hunting pressure and habitat loss. In the Caatinga, the remaining populations are practically isolated in protected areas and are subjected to subsistence hunting. In the Cerrado, the main populations live outside protected areas and are especially threatened by conversion of their natural habitat to sugar cane and soybean plantations.

CONSERVATION

Tolypeutes tricinctus is listed as Vulnerable because of a population decline - estimated to be more than 30% over the last 10-12 years - inferred from ongoing exploitation and habitat loss and degradation.
The Brazilian three-banded armadillo has been observed in Serra da Capivara and Serra das Confusões National Parks, both in southern Piaui (Marinho-Filho and Reis, 2008). It is present in the Grande Sertão Veredas National Park, northern Minas Gerais (M. L. Reis, pers. comm., 2010). It was also recorded in the Ecological Station of Serra Geral do Tocantins and Jalapão State Park (Tocantins), as well as in the Raso da Catarina Biological Reserve and Veredas do Oeste baiano Wildlife Refuge (Bahia; Marinho-Filho and Reis, 2008; M. L. Reis, pers. comm., 2010). No protected areas exist in the area of highest population density (J. Marinho-Filho, pers. comm., 2010).

REFERENCES

Additional information and a complete list of references can be found in: Abba, A.M. and M. Superina (2010): The 2009/2010 Armadillo Red List Assessment. Edentata 11(2): 135-184. This article is available here.

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