|Range of Blanford's fox|
Blanford's fox is named after the English naturalist William Thomas Blanford, who described it in 1877. It is also known as the Afghan fox, royal fox, dog fox, hoary fox, steppe fox, black fox, king fox (شاهروباه shāhrūbāh in Persian), cliff fox or Baluchistan fox.
Distribution and habitat
Blanford's fox inhabits semiarid regions, steppes, and mountains of Afghanistan, Egypt (Sinai), Turkestan, northeast Iran, southwest Pakistan, the West Bank, and Israel. It may also live throughout Arabia (Oman, Yemen, and Jordan), as one was trapped in Dhofar, Oman in 1984. Recent camera trapping surveys have confirmed the presence of the species in several places in the mountains of South Sinai, Egypt and the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, and in Saudi Arabia.
This fox has an ability to climb rocks and jump described as "astonishing", jumping to ledges 3 m above them with ease and as part of their regular movements and climbing vertical, crumbling cliffs by a series of jumps up vertical sections. The foxes use their sharp, curved claws and naked footpads for traction on narrow ledges and their long, bushy tails as a counterbalance.
Like all desert foxes, the Blanford's fox has large ears which enables it to dissipate heat. However, unlike other desert foxes, it does not have pads covered with hair, which would otherwise protect its paws from hot sand. Its tail is almost equal in length to its body. Its coat is light tan, with white underparts and a black tip on the tail. Among all extant canids, only the fennec fox is smaller than Blanford's.
Shoulder height: 12 in. (30 cm)
Head and body length: 17 in. (42 cm)
Tail length: 12 in. (30 cm)
Weight: 2–3.3 lb. (0.9–1.5 kg)
Omnivorous, and more frugivorous than other foxes. It prefers seedless grapes, ripe melons and Russian chives when consuming domestic crops. In addition, it eats insects. The Biblical foxes in the vineyard mentioned in the Song of Songs 2:15, described as "little foxex who roun the vineyards" are most probably the frugivorous Blanford's foxes.
- Time of mating: January–February.
- Gestation period: 50–55 days.
- Litter size: 2–4 kits.
- Lactation: 6–8 weeks days.
- Age at sexual maturity: 8–12 months.
- Longevity: Generally 4–5 years, but reported to live up to 10 years.
While the IUCN has downgraded Blanford's fox to "least concern" as more has been learned about the breadth of its distribution across the Middle East, very little is known about this species and its vulnerabilities to the diseases of domesticated dogs that have so badly affected other canids. Currently, little competition exists with humans for habitat, and the fox is a protected species in Israel and protected from hunting in Oman and Yemen. Some fur hunting occurs in Afghanistan, and occasionally they may take poison intended for hyenas and other species.
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- GBIF sighting records Archived 5 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
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- IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals, and Dogs – 2004 Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan Archived 30 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Cambridge: IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, 2004. p. 197.
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- Abu Baker, M. A. et al., (2004). On the Current Status and Distribution of Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana Blanford, 1877, in Jordan (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae). Turk. J. Zool., 28: 1–6.
- Geffen, E., R. Hefner, D. W. Macdonald & Ucko M. (1992). Habitat selection and home range in the Blanford's fox, Vulpes cana: compatibility with the Resource Dispersion Hypothesis. Oecologia 91: 75–81.
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