Darwin's Fox

Lycalopex fulvipes

Physical Description

Darwin's Fox is one of the smallest fox species know to man, with a dark gray coat with rusty-red color around their faces and limbs. The length of their body (not including the tail) is on average 48-60 cm, and the tails average around 17-26 cm. The fox's weight range is 1.9-3.95 kg.

Habitat and Ecology

These foxes only have two known populations left, one in the island of Chiloé, Southern Chile and the other in Nahuelbuta National Park, also in Chile, but is originally found in Chile. Darwin's Fox's natural habitat is in a mix of sand dunes, pastures, and forests. The fox has a wide range diet, for it's environment is constantly changing as different resources come and go with seasons. Being omnivores, their diet consists of small mammals, berries, seeds, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fruits, and beetles, as his job is maintaining balance in the food chain. This species survives alone during most of it's life, unless it is breeding season, then they will pair up and roam with their offspring and mate for a period of time, usually conceiving about 2-3 pups. An interesting fact about Darwin's Fox is that it is also referred to as Darwin's Zorro, Zorro Chilote, Zorro de Chilote, and Zorro de Darwin. Another unique fact about this animal is that it is endemic to Chile.

Issues

Darwin's Fox has been categorized as critically endangered, being that there are only two known populations left of the species, and the numbers are continuously dropping. The biggest threat to this species is the dogs that visitors of Nahuelbuta National Park unleash. Loose dogs have been known to attack the foxes and transmit disease, consequently lowering the numbers of this already fading population. Other issues that affect the species are poachers, human contact, and deforestation.

Preservation Plan

This species should be preserved for the sake that it is a living being. According to the UN Charter for Nature, "Every form of life is unique, regardless of its worth to man". This concept alone is reason enough to keep this species alive. In order to protect Darwin's Fox, the people of Chile have been trying to up the restrictions on visitors to their National Park's including leash and feeding rules. As many people disregard the danger they are putting this species in, the people of Chile may move the remaining populations from Nahuelbuta to Chile National Park, where there have been substantially less problems with poaching, dog attacks, disease, and human mistreatment. Just like with any other species in risk of being extinct, it deserves support and care in order for survival, in attempt to maintain the world's species biodiversity.

Works Cited