Arnaud Desbiez on BBC 2’s Hotel Armadillo

Whitley Award winner 2015, Arnaud Desbiez, featured in BBC 2’s Hotel Armadillo, broadcast on Friday 07 April at 21.00 and available to watch online here.

Arnaud Desbiez is a conservation biologist who set up the Giant Armadillo Conservation Project in the Brazilian Pantanal in 2010, expanding to the threatened Cerrado biome in 2015.

Giant armadillos are rare, nocturnal and live mostly underground. They are so hard to find that even the show’s narrator WFN Trustee, Sir David Attenborough, had not seen them in the wild 60 years on from his first attempt.

Arnaud worked closely with filmmakers to capture footage, including the first broadcast of a wild giant armadillo’s new-born baby and pictures of inside their six-metre deep burrows.

The documentary demonstrates the importance of the giant armadillo as an ecosystem engineer, with its underground burrows being used by more than 80 different species, from lowland tapir to tamandua, from peccaries to crab eating foxes. Arnaud’s research is providing an insight into this rare and highly elusive species, which is enabling scientists to understand its ecology and behaviour for the first time, and put in place measures to conserve it.

You can watch the programme here and see The Guardian photo article about it here

Read more about Arnaud’s Whitley Award project here

Watch his Whitley Award speech here