Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae

Scientific Name: Vulpes rueppellii
Species Authority: (Schinz, 1825)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Rüppell's Fox, Sand Fox, Rüppell’s Sand Fox, Rüeppell's Fox
French Renard De Rüppell, Renard Famélique
Vulpes rueppelli (Schinz, 1825) [orth. error]

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Cuzin, F., Lenain, D.M., Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I., de Smet, K. & Murdoch, J.
Reviewer(s): Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)
Listed as Least Concern as, although there is no detailed information on its abundance, the species is widespread in desert and semi-desert regions of North Africa and across the Arabian Peninsula eastwards to Pakistan. At present, there are no known major range-wide threats believed to be resulting in a population decline that would warrant listing in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Data Deficient (DD)
1996 Data Deficient (DD)
1994 Insufficiently Known (K)
1990 Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Widespread in arid regions of North Africa (north of 17ºN) from Morocco and Mauritania to Egypt and Somalia, to along the northern fringes of the Sahara Desert. Also present across the Arabian Peninsula eastwards to Pakistan (68ºE) and north-west to Israel and Jordan. A recent record for Syria is the first confirmation of their presence in this country (Serra et al. in press). Suspected historical expansion of distribution area is likely due to desertification, compensated by competition with the red fox due to new human settlements. It seems to avoid the extreme arid regions in the middle of the Sahara, and the Arabian Empty Quarter, being more abundant on the fringes, in mountain massifs and near oases.
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Chad; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Niger; Oman; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Densities of Rüppell's Fox are usually low, but seem higher in areas where food is more freely available for example, near human settlements (Valverde 1957, K. De Smet, pers. obs.). In a large, fenced, protected area of 2,244 km² in Saudi Arabia, densities of 0.68/km² were recorded (Lenain 2000). Lower population estimates outside the fenced reserve indicate that the species may be vulnerable in the over-grazed, human-influenced landscape of central Arabia. In the reserve, the population is stable, but there is a need to document long-term population dynamics (Lenain 2000).
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Their typical habitat includes sand and stone deserts. In Saudi Arabia, they have been found in open and stony habitats often with sparse vegetation cover, including a few herb and grass species (Fagonia indica, Indigofera spinosa, Tribulus spp., Stipagrostis spp. and Panicum turgidum) that receive little rainfall (~100 mm per year) (Lenain 2000). On the northern fringe of the Sahara, Rüppell's Fox may be found in similar areas with up to 150 mm annual rainfall. In Morocco (including Western Sahara), the general habitat presents sparse to very sparse vegetation cover, dominated by small brushes (Hammada scoparia, Panicum turgidum, Fagonia spp.) mostly concentrated in wadis (with Acacia spp., Argania spinosa, Balanites aegyptiaca, Maerua crassifolia and Capparis deciduas trees). In Niger (Dragesco-Joffé 1993) and Morocco (F. Cuzin, pers. obs.), the species avoids large sand dune areas, where the Fennec Fox is the only other reported canid species; however, in Algeria, they also occur in large ergs (De Smet 1988). In United Arab Emirates, Rüppell’s Foxes occur in a variety of desert habitats including sand sheets, sand dunes, gravel plains, and inter-dune sabkhas (Murdoch et al. 2007).

The Rüppell's Fox also lives in coastal areas, with extremely sparse vegetation and without any trees. They are able to survive in areas with little available water, as in central Saudi Arabia (Mahazat as-Sayd protected area) on the fringes of the Arabian Empty Quarter (Lindsay and Macdonald 1986; Murdoch et al. 2007), in Algeria (De Smet 1988) and in Western Sahara, where observations do not show any relationship with the distance to the nearest available water (F. Cuzin, unpubl.).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats include direct and indirect persecution by hunting and indiscriminate use of poisons. In Israel, the species is on the verge of extinction due to competitive exclusion by Red Foxes that are expanding their range following human settlements in the Negev Desert (Yom-Tov and Mendelssohn 1988), and competition with Red Fox is believed to be a problem elsewhere in the range. Rarely hunted for food or for sale of furs. However, in some regions, foxes face persecution for their perceived impact on game species like Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) and livestock (Murdoch et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Occurs in protected areas in Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.

In Israel, the species is fully protected by law, and no hunting, trapping or trading is allowed. In Morocco, according to the annual hunting decree, Rüppell's foxes and red foxes may be hunted during the whole year, as they are considered as pests. In Arabia, no species-specific laws or regulations protect Rüppell's Foxes outside of protected areas. There is no information for other countries.

Rüppell's Foxes are held in captivity, including in the Rabat Zoo, Morocco; the Dubai Zoo, and the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Attempts to breed Rüppell's Foxes have generally not been very successful (Ginsberg and Macdonald 1990), although they have been successfully bred in the Hai Bar Breeding Centre, Eilat, Israel (E. Geffen pers. comm.).

Gaps in knowledge
The status and ecology of North African populations remains largely unknown. Monitoring of populations in well-established protected areas throughout the species' range is encouraged. There is scope for detailed study of competition between Rüppell's and red foxes.

Citation: Cuzin, F., Lenain, D.M., Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I., de Smet, K. & Murdoch, J. 2008. Vulpes rueppellii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T23053A9411846. . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
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