From: Fred Furtado, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published June 6, 2014 09:01 AM

World Cup mascot helps score for Brazilian three-banded armadillos

A call by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, seems to have been heeded by the Brazilian government.

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On 22 May, the Brazilian government published an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil.

The document proposes increasing the protected areas where the armadillo lives, enhancing financial incentives to prevent three-banded armadillo hunting and increasing education about the importance of protecting this species.

A month before the plan was published, a group of scientists criticized FIFA — football's international governing body — and the Brazilian government for squandering a major opportunity to deliver a true conservation legacy for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by protecting the mascot's real-life counterpart.

In their article, published on 22 April in the Biotropica journal, the researchers stated that after the mascot, named Fuleco (a combination of the Portuguese words for football and ecology), was chosen nothing was proposed to protect the armadillo or its habitat: the caatinga, a type of tropical dry forest.

The authors then offered three proposals to enable the World Cup, which begins next week, to live up to its promised ecological legacy.

First, fulfilling a 2011 commitment by the Brazilian government to invest US$275 million in the infrastructure of 47 protected areas. Two years later, this was reduced to only 16 areas and less than two per cent of this funding was actually granted, the authors said.

Second, creating caatinga-specific conservation areas. The authors suggested declaring 1,000 hectares of protected area for each goal scored during the World Cup, which — based on the results at previous tournaments — could lead to the conservation of up to 171,000 hectares.

Finally, accelerating the completion and publication of a conservation plan for the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, which had not been issued despite the species having been classified as 'vulnerable' nearly two decades ago.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, SciDev.Net.

World Cup 2014 mascot image via Shutterstock. Image credit: MarcusVDT.

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