Maned sloth

(Bradypus torquatus)

other common names

Maned three-toed sloth
Brazilian three-toed sloth

Taxonomy

Order: Pilosa
Family: Bradypodidae

description

This sloth has a head-body length of 59–75 cm and a short tail of 4–5 cm. It weighs around 4.6–10.1 kg. Male maned sloths are smaller than females. The fur is brown with long, coarse hair that is often colonized by algae. Both males and females have black manes around the dorsal region of the neck, which are longer and darker in males. 

diet

This is a strict folivore that feeds on a relatively small number of food plants. One study found that leaves from 21 species formed 99% of the diet of three animals.

reproduction

The females give birth to a single young per year. Most births occur at the end of the wet season and beginning of the dry season (February-April). Sexual maturity is probably reached between the second and third year.

range

Bradypus torquatus is restricted to the Atlantic coastal forests of eastern Brazil, where its range is discontinuous.

curious facts

Unlike other Bradypus species, male maned sloths do not have a dorsal speculum, but they have long black manes.

Population trend

Decreasing.

HaBITAT and ECOLOGy

This largely arboreal species is found in wet tropical forest. Most records are from evergreen forests, and just a handful of sightings are from semi-deciduous forests. It can be found in regenerating secondary forests and shady agroecosystems, such as cabrucas (cocoa plantation under native forest in southern Bahia). Maned sloths are active at day and at night, although more regular activity occurs during the day. However, in some areas, such as Poço das Antas Biological Reserve in Rio de Janeiro State, maned sloths are mainly active at night.  Maned sloths climb slowly and positioning themselves on undersides of branches. They move, on average, only 17 m during the day and 5 m at night. The longest single movement that has been recorded of a maned sloth was more than 300 m in 5.5 hours. Home ranges have been estimated at 2.8–5.9 ha. Longevity in the wild is at least 12 years.

threats

The rate of deforestation in the Atlantic forest of eastern Brazil has decreased dramatically in the last three decades but has not stopped, so the pressure on habitat continues. In southern Bahia the economic crisis of the cocoa plantation (Theobroma cacao) puts a pressure on farmers of this product to clear their forest to make room for other economic alternatives, mainly pastures. In other areas, native forests are cleared for other reasons, including coal production, agriculture and city sprawl. The genetic integrity of distinct populations is threatened by the release of confiscated animals at different sites without knowledge or understanding of their origins. Additional threats include subsistence hunting and accidental mortality of B. torquatus on roads.

conservation status

Bradypus torquatus is listed as Vulnerable because it has a restricted area of occupancy (i.e. area of suitable habitat), which is probably less than 1,000 km² based on remaining forest within its highly fragmented range. Its area of occupancy and habitat are in continuing decline due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Furthermore, poaching might be a real threat, particularly in smaller forest fragments where the population is down to a few individuals.