Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae

Scientific Name: Vulpes cana
Species Authority: Blanford, 1877
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Blanford's Fox, Steppe Fox, Afghan Fox
French Renard De Blanford
Spanish Zorro De Blanford

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Geffen, E., Hefner, R. & Wright, P.
Reviewer(s): Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)
Listed as Least Concern as the available evidence suggests that Blanford's Fox has a relatively wide distribution range albeit largely confined to mountainous regions. It is fairly common in some parts of its range, and while the species may be undergoing localized declines, there are at present no known major range-wide threats believed to be resulting in a significant decline that would warrant listing the species in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Data Deficient (DD)
1994 Insufficiently Known (K)
1990 Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Blanford's Fox was first described from south-western Asia in 1877, and specimens were collected from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkistan (= Turkmenistan) (Novikov 1962; Bobrinskii et al. 1965; Lay 1967; Hassinger 1973; Roberts 1977). In 1981, the species was discovered in Israel (Ilani 1983), and since then throughout the Middle East (Harrison and Bates 1989; Al Khalili 1993; Stuart and Stuart 1995; Amr et al. 1996; Amr 2000; Abu Baker et al. 2004) and even in Egypt, west of the Suez Canal (Peters and Rödel 1994).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Egypt (Sinai); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Jordan; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Saudi Arabia; Turkmenistan; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The only available population densities come from Israel where the species is fairly common in the south-east and where density estimates of 2.0/km² in Ein Gedi and 0.5/km² in Eilat have been recorded. Surveys in other regions, such as Arabia, indicate that Blanford's Box is locally abundant. In United Arab Emirates, for example, researchers frequently captured foxes in the north-eastern mountains of the country (Smith et al. 2003).
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Blanford's Fox is confined to mountainous regions (Lay 1967; Roberts 1977). Hassinger (1973) concluded that Blanford's Foxes are generally found below an altitude of 2,000 m in dry montane biotopes. All the records collected on the Persian Plateau are from foothills and mountains in the vicinity of lower plains and basins (Hassinger 1973; Roberts 1977). In that region, the habitat of Blanford's foxes comprises the slopes of rocky mountains with stony plains and patches of cultivation (Lay 1967; Roberts 1977). This species appears to avoid higher mountain ranges as well as lower, warmer valleys (Roberts 1977).

In the Middle East, Blanford's Foxes are confined to mountainous desert ranges and inhabit steep, rocky slopes, canyons and cliffs (Mendelssohn et al. 1987; Harrison and Bates 1989). In Israel, Blanford's Fox is distributed along the western side of the Rift Valley, and, in the central Negev, specimens were collected in creeks that drain into the Rift Valley (Geffen et al. 1993). Apparently, Blanford's Fox can occur on various rock formations as long as its other requirements are met. The distribution of Blanford's Fox in the Arabian Desert is not limited by access to water (Geffen et al. 1992a). In Israel, Blanford's Foxes inhabit the driest and hottest regions. The densest population is found in the Judaean Desert at elevations of 100–350 m below sea level. This is in contrast to Roberts' (1977) remark that the species avoids low, warm valleys in Pakistan.

Geffen et al. (1992b) found that dry creek bed was the most frequently visited habitat in all home ranges in Israel. Home ranges at Ein Gedi (in km²), comprised an average (± SD) of 63.44 ± 3.22% gravel scree, 3.63 ± 2.59% boulder scree, 28.38 ± 4.05% dry creek bed, and 4.54 ± 3.46% stream and spring. Average time (± SD) spent by foxes at Ein Gedi in gravel scree was 148.8 ± 109.8 min/night, 46.0 ± 63.8 min/night in boulder scree, 359.9 ± 141.9 min/night in dry creek bed, and 13.0 ± 27.9 min/night near a water source (Geffen et al. 1992b). Dry creek bed provided abundant prey for the foxes and only sparse cover for their terrestrial predators. Creek bed patches were used in proportion to their size. Both the available area of creek bed in each range and the area of creek bed patches that was used by the foxes were independent of home range size. However, variance in home range size was explained by the mean distance between the main denning area and the most frequently used patches of creek bed (Geffen et al. 1992b).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are currently no obvious major range-wide threats to Blanford's Fox. In Israel, habitat loss is limited as most of the area where this species occurs is designated as protected. However, political developments may change the status of the northern Judaean Desert, and human development along the Dead Sea coasts may also pose a considerable threat to existing habitat. Similar concerns exist for the populations in the U.A.E. (Smith et al. 2003). They may be killed incidentally through carcass poisoning of other target species, such as hyaenas and wolves. At present, the trade in fur is negligible and confined to Afghanistan.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Listed on CITES – Appendix II. Fully protected in Israel, with no hunting, trapping or trading permitted. Holding in captivity requires a special permit from the Nature Reserves Authority of Israel. There is a ban on hunting in Jordan and Oman. However, there is no legal protection in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

The species occurs in protected areas in Israel, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

In Israel, the species is kept in captivity at the Hai Bar Breeding Centre (near Eilat). In previous years, there was a pair at the Tel Aviv University Zoo. Captive individuals are also kept at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, U.A.E. Foxes have been successfully bred at all the above facilities.

Gaps in knowledge
The information on the biology of Blanford's foxes is mostly from the southern part of Israel. Nothing is known on the behaviour and ecology of the species in the eastern part of its distribution. Interactions with other predators and the susceptibility to diseases are poorly understood.

Citation: Geffen, E., Hefner, R. & Wright, P. 2008. Vulpes cana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T23050A9410271. . Downloaded on 09 October 2015.
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