A camera trap survey conducted by WCS and other groups to survey wildlife in rural locations in Brazil’s Atlantic forest and Pantanal regions produced a big surprise: the unexpected frequency of vampire bats feeding on both wildlife and livestock in both areas. While analyzing more than 10,000 camera trap video and images, the research team conducting the survey noticed a higher than expected rate of vampire bats feeding on tapirs, brocket deer, and feral pigs, a non-native species that is spreading into all Brazilian forests. Feral pigs in particular were to be a preferred target of vampire bats; interactions between the two species were observed in 10 percent of the image data. The finding is concerning, the researchers say, because vampire bats act as reservoirs for rabies, a deadly disease to people, livestock, and wildlife.
“Feral pig populations in Brazil are currently increasing, and the spread of these animals causes crop damage and predation of native species,” said Alexine Keuroghlian, WCS scientist and co-author on the study. Felipe Pedrosa from the State University of Sao Paulo (UNESP) added: “The relationship between feral pigs and vampire bats could result in a rabies outbreak among domesticated animals that have not been vaccinated, wildlife species, and possibly people living in rural areas. Effective management for feral pigs would help eliminate both destruction of wildlife and health threats to animals and people.”
The paper published by Keuroghlian and her colleagues appears in the latest edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1431/full (