Cape Fox - © Chris and Tilde StuartRelevant Links
English: silver fox, silver jackal; French: le renard du Cap ; Spanish: Zorro Chama, Zorro del Cabo; Afrikaans: silwervos, silwerjakkals, draaijakkals
The Cape Fox is widespread in the central and western regions of southern Africa, and has even expanded its range over recent decades. It is generally common to fairly abundant across much of its range, although problem animal control activities have resulted in population reductions in some areas. Estimated population sizes or numbers are not available, but it is thought that populations are currently stable across their entire range.
Habitat and Ecology:
They mainly associate with open country, including grassland, grassland with scattered thickets, and lightly wooded areas, particularly in the dry Karoo regions, the Kalahari and the fringes of the Namib Desert. They also penetrate moderately dense vegetation in lowland fynbos in the western Cape, as well as extensive agricultural lands where they lie up in surviving pockets of natural vegetation during the day and forage on arable and cultivated fields at night (Stuart 1981). Along the eastern flank of the Namib Desert, Namibia, they occupy rock outcroppings and inselbergs, ranging out onto bare gravel plains at night (Stuart 1975). In Botswana, they have been recorded from Acacia-scrubland, short grassland and especially on the fringes of shallow seasonal pans, as well as cleared and overgrazed areas (Smithers 1971; Skinner and Smithers 1990). In the central Karoo of South Africa, they occupy the plains as well as the low rocky ridges and isolated rock outcroppings. In the Free State, Lynch (1975) found that they were most abundant in areas receiving less than 500 mm of rainfall, although in KwaZulu-Natal they have been recorded between 1,000 and 1,500 m above sea level, where rainfall is roughly 720–760 mm (Rowe-Rowe 1992).
Habitat loss/changes are not a major factor influencing the conservation status of the Cape Fox. In fact, in western Cape Province and elsewhere, changing agricultural practices have resulted in range extensions for this species, as well as for the bat-eared fox (Stuart 1981). Expansion of semi-arid karroid vegetation during the process of desertification, especially eastwards, has also resulted in range extensions of this canid. Heavy direct and indirect problem animal control measures do not seem to have had a major impact on populations of the Cape Fox, even though they have resulted in declines in some areas. The illegal but widespread and indiscriminate use of agricultural poisons on commercial farms poses the greatest threat (C. Stuart and T. Stuart, pers. obs.). The trade in Cape Fox pelts is negligible and this situation is unlikely to change.