The South Rupununi Conservation Society (SRCS) recently launched its first storybook called “Mawuusa and the Giant Anteater – Experiences, beliefs, and Research from the South Rupununi, Guyana” based on research on the existence of Giant Anteaters in Guyana.
This beautifully illustrated storybook tells the tale of a young girl from Katoonarib Village called Mawuusa who wants to learn more about Giant Anteaters in Guyana.
According to the Programme Coordinator of the SRCS, Neal Millar’s research on Giant Anteaters in Guyana began in 2019 given the lack of information available online. He shared that Giant Anteaters are only found in South America and while research can be found on the population in other countries, it is not the same for Guyana.
“So, prior to 2019, there had never been any research or studies done concerning Giant Anteaters in Guyana. You can only find Giant Anteaters in South America. So, our organisation…received financing…support from Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme and SGP Guyana, and with their support, we were able to conduct research in four communities. The aim of the research is to find out more about Giant Anteaters,” Millar told this publication.
He added that residents believed that the Giant Anteater population was decreasing, however, there was no research to prove the same, so residents were trained from four hinterland communities such as of Katoonarib, Sawariwau, Shulinab, and Wariwau to place camera traps in various locations to gather images of giant anteaters.
“We did this by training local persons from those communities to place camera traps in strategic locations around their community to collect images of Giant Anteaters,” Millar shared.
He added that “In addition to camera trap work we also did household surveys…to ask questions about Giant Anteaters, what threats they think they face, where do they commonly see them. We also asked them to collect traditional data and stories because for years and years, Indigenous people have lived alongside their wildlife and they have a lot of cultural beliefs about different species and their uses.”
After research and data collection, the SRCS wanted to find an easier way to disseminate information to children so they created a book with simplified stories from research.
“We wanted an easy way to disseminate information to children because for them to read like a report or scientific publication, it’s very boring and they probably wouldn’t read it…so instead we condensed the information, we simplified it and we turned it into the story of a young girl called Mawuusa and Mawuusa means beautiful in the local Wapishana language,” Millar explained.
The lead author of the book was Erin Earl, who is the giant anteater programme coordinator at the SRCS and is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The information in the book combines local stories and beliefs with scientific results and conservation activities that were all collected through the SRCS Giant Anteater research and conservation project in the South Rupununi.
In the coming weeks, the book, which currently has an average of 300 copies, will be distributed to communities throughout the Rupununi and is for children, teenagers, adults, and anyone who wants to know more about Giant Anteaters. If any organisation, agency, or community is interested in receiving copies of the book, please email [email protected]