|Pygmy three-toed sloth|
Deforestation is the most serious and common threat facing all species of sloth. However, lack of behavioural and biological knowledge of these species means scientists are uncertain as to how sloths will react to this threat and how to conserve them. An issue that has already arisen is an increase in deformed young sloths that is probably due to an increase in inbreeding that has occurred because of habitat fragmentation.
Therefore, this is a vital area of research that has begun to be explored by the 'Sloth Saunturay' in Costa Rica which is involved in the 'Sloth Backpack Project' that is spearheaded by a British zoologist Becky Cliffe. This research currently focus's on Brown-throated three-toed and Hoffman's two-toed sloths which are being fitted with 'backpacks' that combine VHF transmitters and GPS tags. This provides information about these sloth's habitat preference, range, diet and reproduction. This information can be used to highlight important areas for these species and therefore conservation efforts can focus on protecting these habitats. In addition, this information can also help in the captive breeding of these species as the 'Sloth Sancuray' receives many orphaned sloths that have been separated and injured by local people that persecute them. At present there have been few successful releases of these orphans but this research can provide information about what these sloth's require to learn in order to be released into the wild.
|Orphaned sloth at the santuary|
actually require our help. I'm sure this will not be the first time we're shocked about our lack of understanding about the nature around us but I hope this will only go on to inspire more essential and fascinating research.
More information can be found about this project at Becky Cliffe's blog (http://beckycliffe.com/sloth-backpack-project/) and the 'Sloth Santuary' website (http://www.slothsanctuary.com/research/).