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Darwin’s Fox

South America

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Lycalopex fulvipes

Endangered

  • Destruction of main habitat
  • Vulnerability to canine distemper virus (CDV)
  • Attacks by feral dogs
  • Persecution from locals

The Darwin’s Fox, named after the British naturalist Charles Darwin, is an obligate species of Chile’s Chiloe Island and Nahuelbuta National Park. Also called Darwin’s Zorro, it is closely related to both domesticated dogs and wolves.

As one of the world’s most elusive carnivores that are endemic to the South American temperate rainforests, it is down to its last 700 remaining population due to a number of threats.

Deforestation is on top of the list as more human settlements and developmental activities (such as bridge construction between Chiloe and its mainland) limit the natural range of these foxes. Habitat degradation and clearing of lands for agricultural purposes add to the problem.

Another challenge to the survival of the Darwin’s Fox species is death through feral animals or by contracting canine distemper virus (CDV) from off-leash Chilean dogs. These foxes are also vulnerable to hunting by locals who believe they are a threat against domestic fowls.