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North Africa & the Middle EastRuppell's fox Vulpes rueppellii

Rüppell's fox - © C&T Stuart

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English: Rüppell's Fox, Rueppell's Fox, Rüeppell's Fox, Rüppel's Fox, Rüppell's Sand Fox, Sand Fox ; French: Renard De Rüppell, Renard Famélique.

Least Concern

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.

Population trend:Unknown

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

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.).


Major Threats:

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).