Tiny Brazilian opossum could be farmers’ friend (Mongabay and Scientific American)
André Mendonça pops open the spring-loaded door on the shoebox-sized trap and peeks inside. Two bulging, black eyes glare back at him. He pulls the trap off the tree limb and shakes the stunned, sopping wet creature into a clear plastic bag. “One more!” he says excitedly.
The animal, a gracile mouse opossum (Gracilinanus agilis), has a long, pointy nose, adorable pink ears, and slender hairless legs. Mendonça, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Brasília, weighs and measures the animal, clips its ears and adds two metal tags. Then, lets it go and watches it amble into a sapling. This little drama takes place at the Botanical Garden of Brasília, a few miles from the center of the Brazilian capital.
Preserving Brazil’s Cerrado savanna landscape, Mendonça tells me, isn’t just good for biodiversity, it’s also good for neighboring farms and farmers. A reason why: these researchers just recently learned that this little opossum species likes to feast on a local soybean pest. “If farmers maintain a natural [wooded] area next to their soy plantation,” where these animals can live, “they may not have to use as much pesticide,” he said.
Read more: http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0407-sri-borrell-brazilian-opossum-could-be-farmers-friend.html#ixzz3WppXHTVJ
This is the second story from my trip to Brazil, which was supported by the Mongabay Special Reporting Inititative