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The Cerrado and its animals

The beautiful Cerrado contains 5% of all life on Earth and there is so much to discover there. Find out more about this wonderful place.


Isabella Vitali was born and grew up in the Cerrado. She's seen the changes caused by the massive soya plantations that have replaced vast swathes of the region over recent decades.

Watch some remarkable images from the Cerrado, and listen to Isabella's personal story.

Cerrado facts and figures

  • The Cerrado’s diverse landscape is a mosaic of dry grasslands, wetlands and forest areas.
  • It’s home to 60 vulnerable animal species – 20 endangered and 12 critically endangered
  • 44% of its plant species exist nowhere else on Earth
  • Around 300 of its native plant species are used as food, medicine, handicrafts or for trade
  • Nine out of ten Brazilians use electricity generated by water from Cerrado areas
  • Less than 3% of the total Cerrado area is strictly protected.

The Cerrado is home to a huge number of animals and plants – here are just three of the most iconic…

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). Threatened, The giant anteater eats ants and termites in vast quantities, sometimes up to 30,000 insects in a single day. It is found in the Cerrado, Brazil.

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

Listed as “vulnerable to extinction” on the IUCN Red List, the giant anteater is already considered extinct in some parts of Brazil. Reasons can include dietary restrictions, low reproductive rates, large body size and threats from habitat damage, fires and road collisions. Their population has declined around 30% over the last 10 years.

There are very few studies into the lifecycle of the giant anteater, so we don’t know for sure how long they live or exactly what their reproductive rates are. But it’s known they’re generally solitary animals, that the females give birth to just one young once a year, and she will carry the baby on her back for about six months.

Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), South America

Maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus)

The maned wolf, with its slim body and fluffy reddish-orange coat, is one of the most beautiful of Brazilian animals. A relative of both the wild wolf and the pet dog, the maned wolf is the largest canid in South America, but is shy and practically harmless to humans. They are solitary animals, spread thinly across wide ranges, from open savannah to riverside forests, and have an omnivorous diet, eating a wide variety of Cerrado fruits and small animals such as birds, armadillos, rodents, pampas deer, reptiles and insects.

 The IUCN lists the maned wolf as “threatened with extinction” – there are estimated to be just 13,000 mature maned wolves left in the wild, and that’s expected to decline by 10% over the next decade. Biggest threats are the drastic destruction of their habitat, especially for agriculture, but also deaths on roads and fights with domestic dogs.

Brazilian three banded armadillo {Tolypeutes tricinctus} Cerrado, Brazil

Brazilian three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus)

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo is found in the eastern areas of the Cerrado and the Caatinga habitat of north eastern Brazil. Unlike other armadillo species, this species does not burrow and have a life underground, and instead rolls into ball when threatened.

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo was thought to be extinct until the early 1990s when it was rediscovered in a handful of isolated populations throughout eastern Brazil. It is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN Red List due to its population decline, estimated to be more that 30% over the last 10-12 years.

In the Cerrado, the main threat to this species is that they primarily exist outside of the protected areas so are threatened by conversion of their natural habitat to sugar cane and soybean plantations.

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Find out more about the Cerrado

Giant Anteater The Cerrado Aerial view of the Cerrado and soy monoculture, Ribeiro Gonçalves, Brazil

Related Links

Cerrado Factsheet

Cerrado Factsheet

Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco) Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi). Close up of head. Diamantina Plateau, Cerrado Ecosystem, Brazil