By Elaine Magliaro
Sorry that I’ve been away from FFS for such a long time. I’ve been nursing an injured foot.
Yesterday, I read a story on Yahoo News about two hunters in Brazil who were killed by giant anteaters in separate incidents. I had never thought that anteaters could be such dangerous animals. Kerry Sheridan—who wrote the story—said that these killings have raised concerns with researchers about the anteaters’ loss of habitat—and about “the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people…” She said, “The long-nosed, hairy mammals are not typically aggressive toward people and are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), largely due to deforestation and human settlements that encroach on their territory.” She added that the animals have poor vision and may attack if frightened. It was reported that the front claws of giant anteaters “are as long as pocketknives”
According to Sheridan, case studies of these two fatal attacks on humans were “described in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, which released the paper online this month, ahead of its publication in the December print issue.” Vidal Haddad of the Botucatu School of Medicine at Sao Paulo State University, the lead author of the report, told AFP that both victims “were farmers, were hunting and were attacked by wounded or cornered animals.”
In one incident, an anteater “stood on its hind legs and grabbed the man with its forelimbs, causing deep puncture wounds in his thighs and upper arms.” The hunter was said to have bled to death at the scene. That tragic encounter occurred on August 1, 2012. Sheridan said that the incidents hadn’t been written about in scientific literature until now.
In the other incident—which occurred in 2010—a 75-year-old man died “when an anteater used its long front claws — which typically help it dig into anthills — to puncture his femoral arteries, located in the groin and thigh.” Haddad said that the injuries were very serious and that they have “no way of knowing whether it is a defense behavior acquired by the animals.” Haddad added that “such attacks are rare, but said they are important because they show the need for people to give wild animals plenty of space.”
Giant Anteater (Sir David Attenborough)
Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil (Yahoo/AFP)
Giant anteater (Wikipedia)