Giant anteaters killed two Brazilian hunters in two separate incidents, according to a new report.
When I think of anteaters, I don’t think of an animal that would attack and kill a man.
But a new report published by Wilderness and Environmental Medicine claims that giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two men in separate incidents within in the past four years.
Both incidents reportedly involved hunters who were attacked by anteaters that were wounded or cornered, according to the news source AFP/Brasilia.
The most recent incident occurred in 2012, when a 47-year-old farmer and his two sons and hunting dogs cornered a giant anteater in northern Brazil. The man didn’t shoot the giant anteater, but it came towards him while he had his knife drawn. The animal then stood on its hind legs (they can stand up to six feet tall) and pierced the man with its sharp claws. He bled to death at the scene.
The second encounter, which occurred in 2010, involved a 75-year-old man who was fatally pierced in his femoral artery by a giant anteater. He also bled to death at the attack site.
These cases expose some very unusual animal behavior. Anteaters are not typically aggressive to humans. Their diet consists of ants, termites and bugs. So why would they go postal?
The study’s authors suggest the giant anteaters’ aggressive behavior was a reaction to their habitat loss, but there’s no way to be sure.
“These injuries are very serious and we have no way of knowing whether it is a defence behaviour acquired by the animals,” lead author Vidal Haddad told AFP.
Giant anteaters’ habitat range extends from Central Mexico to South America. They are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature because of their low reproductive rates and habitat loss caused by human development and deforestation.