The growing economic exploitation of the Cerrado combined with a lack of effective legislative protection has seriously contributed to the destruction of this ecosystem. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the main effects arising from anthropogenic activities undertaken in these environments, changing population densities and reducing biodiversity. Because of this, this project intends to assess the impacts of human activities on populations of medium and large bodied mammals in this ecosystem.
The project is based in the Serra da Canastra National Park, in the state of Minas Gerais, which is an area of high biodiversity and equally high anthropogenic pressure in the adjacent areas. The mammal fauna of the park is representative in terms of biodiversity and ecological importance and includes species such as the giant anteater, giant armadillo, tapir, marsh deer, among others. With respect to the carnivores, 15 of 18 species from the Cerrado, enrich the local fauna. These carnivores include important species, such as the maned wolf and pampas cat. Economic development in the region, as in any ecosystem, has threatened these species. The adaptation of these species to human activities will be evaluated to determine the impact and extent on the different species.
The data obtained will be used to develop emergency action plans to protect the Cerrado, and conserve the regional and national diversity of mammal species. The area has been studied since 1999.The first phase of the project consisted of a survey of the medium and large bodied mammals and interviews to understand economic activities and community involvement with the fauna. The second phase began in January 2001.