The Maned wolf gets its name from its mane, which stands erect when danger is sensed. Its long reddish-brown hair covers its body, with its mouth, back, and tail being black. Sometimes the tip of the tail, the chin, and throat are white. Its legs are almost black, and their length enables the wolf to see over the long grass while it runs.
The Maned wolf makes its home in central South America, extending from north-eastern Brazil, west into Peru, and south through Paraguay. It also lives in parts of Argentina and Bolivia, and possibly Uruguay. It prefers open habitats such as tall grasslands, low-scrub parts of forests edges, and sometimes swampy areas. In Brazil, it lives in the cerrado, a big area of savannah and open woodland, one of the world's principal "hot-spots" of biodiversity.
The Maned wolf is not a social animal and does not live in a pack. They are nocturnal, hunting only at dusk and during the night. They hardly ever move about during the day. They have three types of communication: a high-pitched whine, a low growl, and a "roar-bark," a low, guttural bark for communicating over long distances. They are shy and timid and pose little or no threat to men. A Maned wolf marks its territory with the strong odor of its urine, a warning to other animals to stay away.
Maned wolves are omnivores. They eat small and medium-sized prey, such as small mammals, rodents, birds, and fish. Much of their diet, perhaps over 50%, also includes vegetable matter, such as sugarcane, tubers, and fruits.
Maned wolves are monogamous and mate for life. A male and female will share a territory but only come together during the mating season, from November to April. Male and female together find a den to house the pups. The males protect their den while the pups are being born. The gestation period is 60 to 65 days, and a litter consists of 2 to 6 pups, having black fur and weighing about 450 g (16 oz). They are fully grown at one year old. During their first year, they rely on their parents to provide food.
The main threat to this species is loss of habitat and fragmentation, with grasslands being converted to farmland for crops grazing purposes. Road accidents cause a number of deaths, particularly to younger animals. Domestic dogs can spread diseases to the wolves, and chase and attack them.
According to IUCN, as of 2005, the Maned wolf population was estimated at 17,000 mature individuals, including 15,849 in Brazil, 613 in Paraguay, 487 in Argentina and less than 1,000 in Bolivia. The ICUN classifies the maned wolf as "Near Threatened".