Hunting the ghost dogs with camera traps

Cara Giaimo in the New York Times covers a recent research paper that combines camera trap evidence from across a large swath of the western Amazon to examine an elusive canine: “The Ghost Dogs of the Amazon Get a Bit Less Mysterious”.

Daniel Rocha, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, and the study’s lead author, became interested in the short-eared dog in 2015, when he began working in the southern part of the Amazon. He and his colleagues set up camera traps to study the local mammal community. As they looked through the footage, “these dogs would appear,” he said. With pricked ears and furrowed brows, they almost look surprised to be caught on camera.
It surprised him, too. Even locals who spend a lot of time in the Amazon don’t often see short-eared dogs, which were assumed to be quite rare. They also evade career researchers focused on this region: Mr. Rocha, who spent years leading this study, said, “I’ve never seen the dog in the jungle, ever.”

The article briefly describes the broad collaboration that is making it possible to collect data on this species and study its distribution.