The extremely rare animal remains a huge mystery to scientists.
A bizarre, mysterious, and almost impossible to find creature deep in the jungles of Central and South America has finally been captured in a camera trap study.
It’s called the bush dog, although its scientific name is Speothos venaticus, and it stands at a foot tall at the shoulder and roams in packs of 10 in the tropical forests hunting for rodents and armadillos, according to a Discovery News report.
The animal isn’t actually endangered, at least by the standards of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it’s just incredibly hard to find them. These new photographs were taken in Panama, although they are believed to live throughout the Amazon rainforest in South America as well.
But IUCN also acknowledges that although its range appears to be widespread, the animal is so hard to find that it’s impossible to estimate population numbers and therefore determine how many of them there are, which is why they are considered “near threatened” by IUCN.
It took automated camera traps in a remote part of Panama operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to capture the animals. The cameras were being used to study large mammals like jaguars.
“Our group of biologists from Yaguará Panama and collaborators are working on an article about big mammals using camera trapping data that spans Panama from the Costa Rican border to the Colombian border,” said Smithsonian Research Associate Ricardo Moreno in a statement. “The bush dog is one of the rarest species that we photograph.”
Panama is so far the only Central American country confirmed to host bush dogs, although scientists suspect that Costa Rica may have some as well, or at least the bush dogs will cross the border at some point.