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Vulpes bengalensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA CANIDAE

Scientific Name: Vulpes bengalensis
Species Authority: (Shaw, 1800)
Common Name(s):
English Bengal Fox, Indian Fox

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Johnsingh, A.J.T. & Jhala, Y.V.
Reviewer(s): Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)
Justification:
The Indian Fox is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. Although widespread, it occurs at low densities throughout its range, and populations can undergo major fluctuations due to prey availability. Due to loss of short grassland-scrub habitat to intensive agriculture, industry and development projects the Indian Fox population is on the decline. However, the decline is unlikely to be sufficient to warrant the listing of the species in a threatened category and therefore is currently assessed as Least Concern.
History:
2004 Least Concern
1996 Data Deficient
1994 Indeterminate (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Indeterminate (IUCN 1990)
1988 Insufficiently Known (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Indian Fox is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. It ranges from the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. In the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, the species' range extends from Sindh province of Pakistan to north Bengal in India.
Countries:
Native:
Bangladesh; India; Nepal; Pakistan
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Nowhere in its range is the Indian Fox abundant. Densities seem to track rodent abundance in the Bhal area of Gujarat (Y.V. Jhala unpubl.), which fluctuates widely between years in the species' prime habitat (arid and semi-arid zones of India) (Prakash 1975; Tripathi et al. 1992). Occurrence of the Indian Fox in Langtan National Park and Shey Wildlife Reserve in Nepal was reported by Shrestha (1997); however, this has not been confirmed and is considered unlikely.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Indian Fox prefers semi-arid, flat to undulating terrain, scrub and grassland habitats where it is easy to hunt and dig dens. It avoids dense forests, steep terrain, tall grasslands and true deserts. The species is relatively abundant in the biogeographic zones 3, 4 and 6 of India, in which rainfall is low, and the vegetation is typically scrub, thorn or dry deciduous forests, or short grasslands (Rodgers et al. 2000). In the Indian peninsula, the species is restricted to the plains and open scrub forest.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although the Indian Fox is widespread, it occurs at low densities throughout its range, and populations can undergo major fluctuations due to prey availability. It is also quite sensitive to human modifications of its habitat. With expanding human populations and continued development of grasslands and "wastelands" for agricultural and industrial uses, the habitat of the Indian Fox is continuously being depleted. The combination of above factors along with disease and/or natural mortality could potentially cause local extinctions. In certain states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, the Indian Fox habitat is widespread with minimal threats, while in other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu the specialized habitats of the Indian Fox are under serious threat.

There are no known commercial uses for the Indian Fox, although there is limited localized trade for skin, tail, teeth and claws (for medicinal and charm purposes). There is no trade or potential for trade of the Indian Fox.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The populations of India are listed on CITES Appendix III. The Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972 as amended up to 1991) prohibits hunting of all wildlife and lists the Indian Fox in Schedule II. It is not on any special category for protection in the wildlife legislation of Nepal.

Occurs in protected areas in India and Nepal.

There have been no conservation efforts targeted specifically for the species.

The Indian Fox is held in captivity in several zoos in India, where the species breeds well. In 2001, there were 15 males, 14 females, and 11 unsexed individuals in several zoos (Central Zoo Authority pers. comm.).

Gaps in knowledge
A status survey is needed to identify areas throughout the species' range that have large, relatively secure fox populations. In some of these areas, an in-depth, long-term study is needed on population dynamics of the Indian fox. This would help elucidate the fox's relationship with prey population cycles and disease outbreaks. Research is also needed on ranging patterns, territoriality, and behaviour of this poorly studied species.

Citation: Johnsingh, A.J.T. & Jhala, Y.V. 2008. Vulpes bengalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 October 2014.
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