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North Africa & the Middle EastBlanford's fox Vulpes cana

Blanford's Fox - © Steve Kaufman

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Arabic: tha'leb sakhari; English: royal fox, hoary fox; French: renard royale; German: Afghanfuchs; Hebrew: shual tzukim.

Least Concern

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.

Population trend:Unknown

(Blanford's fox range map)
(Click on map for more detail)

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).