Pseudalopex griseus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pseudalopex griseus
Species Authority: (Gray, 1837)
Common Name(s):
English South American Grey Fox, Argentine Gray Fox, Grey Zorro
Spanish Zorro Chico, Chilla, Zorro Chilla, Zorro De La Pampa, Zorro Gris, Zorro Gris Chico, Zorro Gris Patagónico
French Renard Gris
Lycalopex griseus (Gray, 1837)
Taxonomic Notes: Included in the genus Lycalopex by Wozencraft (2005), but here retained in Pseudalopex.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Jiménez, J.E., Lucherini, M. & Novaro, A.J.
Reviewer(s): Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)
The Chilla is widespread in plains and mountains on both sides of the Andes in Chile and Argentina. Populations in the southern half of Argentina, where habitat is more favourable, are essentially stable. Their status in the northern half of the country is unknown. In Chile, they are considered frequent in the north, scarce in central Chile, and common-abundant in the south. Despite having been overexploited for their fur in the past, Chillas seem not to be decreasing in number. The species is not considered threatened at present.
2004 Least Concern
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Widespread in plains and mountains on both sides of the Andes, from northern Chile (17°S) down to Tierra del Fuego (54°S). In Argentina, they occur in the western and southern arid and semi-arid regions of the country, from ca. 23°S (Jujuy and Salta) to Tierra del Fuego, and from the eastern foothills of the Andes mountain range to meridian 66°W, reaching the Atlantic coast (ca. 63°W) south from Río Negro. Present in the following provinces: Jujuy (Jayat et al. 1999), Salta (Mares et al. 1996), Tucumán, Catamarca, Santiago del Estero, La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza, west of San Luis, Neuquén, west of La Pampa, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego (Osgood 1943; Olrog and Lucero 1981).

Widespread in Chile from the I Administrative Region (Atacama Province) in the north, south to the Strait of Magellan (XII Administrative Region, Magallanes Province) and Tierra del Fuego (Medel and Jaksic 1988; Marquet et al. 1993), and from the western foothills of the Andes mountain range to the Pacific coast (71–73°W). They were introduced to Tierra del Fuego in 1951 in an attempt to control rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) infestation (Jaksic and Yáñez 1983).

Other populations have been reported to exist in some of the southern Atlantic islands, including Malvinas/Falkland (Olrog and Lucero 1981), but this requires confirmation. Their presence in Peru is uncertain.
Argentina; Chile
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In Argentina, Olrog and Lucero (1981) considered chillas to be "locally common". In the latter country, relative abundance of chillas has been evaluated mainly through the scent stations technique. Autumn data collected in Pilcaniyeu (Río Negro) from 1983 to 1989, as well as winter data collected in Patagonia from 1989 to 2000 (A. Novaro and M. Funes unpubl.) and in north-eastern Mendoza from 1993 to 1997 (F. Videla et al. unpubl., R. González del Solar et al. unpubl.), suggest that populations are essentially stable in the southern half of Argentina where habitat is more favourable. They are reported to have expanded their distribution in Tierra del Fuego since their introduction (A. Novaro pers. comm.). J. Bellati (pers. comm.) estimated in 1996 an ecological density of one chilla/km² in Tierra del Fuego. Their status in the northern half of the country is unknown.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Chilla occurs in steppes, "pampas" (grasslands), and "matorral" (scrublands) (Olrog and Lucero 1981). They generally inhabit plains and low mountains, but they have been reported to occur as high as 3,500–4,000 m (see Marquet et al. 1993; Jayat et al. 1999). Although Chillas occur in a variety of habitats, they prefer shrubby open areas. In central Chile, they hunt more commonly in flat, open patches of low height (1–2 m) scrub than in areas with dense vegetation or ravines. Yet, they do visit ravines, apparently in search of fruit (Jaksic et al. 1980; Jiménez et al. 1996). In southern Chile (Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta), Chillas also prefer open areas to those more dense patches where Darwin's Foxes occur (Jaksic et al. 1990; Jiménez et al. 1990; Medel et al. 1990). Durán et al. (1985) found that in Chilean Patagonia, their typical habitat was the shrubby steppe composed of "coirón" (Festuca spp., Stipa spp.) and "ñires" (Nothofagus antarctica), and that burning and destruction of forests in order to augment the land for sheep farming seems to have been advantageous for Chillas. A similar preference was detected in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, where 58% of the 12 monitored individuals used matorral shrubland or Nothofagus thicket habitat within their home ranges, more than was expected (Johnson and Franklin 1994b). In the north-eastern Mendoza desert (Argentina), these foxes seem to prefer the lower levels of the shrubby sand dunes that characterize the landscape or the valleys among dunes rather than their higher sections (R. González del Solar, unpubl.).

Chillas are tolerant to very different climatic regimes from remarkably hot and dry areas, such as the Atacama coastal desert in northern Chile (less than 0 mm average annual rainfall, 22°C mean annual temperature), to the humid regions of the temperate Valdivian forest (2,000 mm average annual rainfall, 12°C mean annual temperature) and the cold Tierra del Fuego (ca. 400 mm average annual rainfall, 7°C mean annual temperature).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to Chilla populations in the past was commercial hunting. However, inferences on the historical rate of Chilla extraction are difficult, since official pelt-export reports apparently have conflated data corresponding to different species. Hunting intensity has apparently declined in recent years. Illegal trapping still occurs in some regions of Chile and Argentina, mainly related to controlling predation on small livestock and apparently not as intensively as in the past (A. Iriarte pers. comm.). The species is hunted for its pelt in Argentina and Chile.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included in CITES – Appendix II (as Lycalopex griseus).

Present in at least six protected areas in central west Argentina. In Chile, the secies is present in 30 Wildlife Protected Areas (WPA) from a total of 49 surveyed. However, 40% of those 30 WPAs are smaller than the 115 km² needed to sustain a minimum viable population (500 individuals). Estimates of local extinctions in WPAs from central Chile reach 50% (see Simonetti and Mella 1997). The most important Chilean WPAs in which Chillas occur include: Parque Nacional Lauca, Parque Nacional Puyehue, Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.

Resolution 144/83 of the former National Secretary of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development of Argentina categorises this species as "In Danger". Chillas are totally protected in Mendoza, Catamarca, and San Luis, while in the continental provinces of Patagonia and in Tierra del Fuego, hunting and fur trading are legal (A. Novaro and M. Funes pers. comm.).

In Chile, the passing of the 1972 furbearer's protection law appears to have curtailed the exports of pelts (Iriarte and Jaksic 1986, Iriarte 2000). Currently, all Chilean populations are protected by law N° 19,473 [1996], except for those from Tierra del Fuego (XII Region), where a maximum of 10 individuals/day/hunter are allowed from May 1 to July 31 (A. Iriarte pers. comm.).

Efforts are being made in Argentina to concentrate the relevant biological, legal and commercial information on the species in an attempt to design a plan for sustainable use and conservation (A. Novaro and M. Funes pers. comm.).

Chillas occur in many zoos of Argentina and Chile, but details of breeding in captivity are not known.

The need for a deeper understanding of the biology of the Chilla has been repeatedly emphasized by Argentinean as well as by Chilean studies (e.g., Johnson and Franklin 1994a; González del Solar et al. 1997). Reliable information is needed especially with regard to those biological aspects required for population management leading to sustainable use and conservation: population-dynamics, incidence of parasites and other diseases, and research on the role of chillas in small-livestock mortality.

Citation: Jiménez, J.E., Lucherini, M. & Novaro, A.J. 2008. Pseudalopex griseus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 19 December 2014.
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