Critically Endangered Foxes and Wolves
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Critically Endangered Foxes and Wolves

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed five species of Canidae under the status of Critically Endangered, meaning that they face extreme risk of extinction. These canids are the Island Fox, Darwin’s Fox, Red Wolf, Ethiopian wolf, and Himalayan wolf. Tremendous conservation efforts have been undertaken to protect these animals.

Wolves and foxed may be some of the wildest animals in nature. Yet, their savageness does not exempt them from dangers and menaces that threat their survival. They belong to the family of Canidae which includes the dogs, jackals, coyotes, and other dog-like animals. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed five species of Canidae under the status of Critically Endangered, meaning that they face extreme risk of extinction. Here are the five critically endangered wolves and foxes:

Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis), also known as coast fox, short-tailed fox, Channel Islands fox, insular gray fox, California Channel Island fox and island gray fox, is a small fox endemic to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. Its head-to-body length is only 48-50 cm and it weighs between 1 and 2.8 kg. The island fox has gray fur on its head, a ruddy red coloring on its sides, white fur on its belly, throat and the lower half of its face, and a black stripe on the dorsal surface of its tail.

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Threats to these animals are the presence of golden eagles in the island, introduction of diseases and parasites, and diminished food supply and general degradation of the habitat. The decline of the island fox population was first identified in the 1990s. In 1999, adult population reduced to 15 from 450. Presently, federal protection has been done. The National Parks Service has initiated captive fox breeding programs on San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands, successfully increasing the numbers of resident foxes. In 2004, there were 38 San Miguel island foxes, all in captivity; 46 foxes in captivity on Santa Rosa Island and 7 in the wild; Santa Cruz Island had 25 captive foxes and a stable wild population of around 100 foxes. The Catalina Island Conservancy also runs a captive breeding program on Catalina Island; in 2002, there were 17 foxes in captive breeding programs and at least 161 wild foxes.

Darwin's Fox (Lycalopex fulvipes), Darwin’s Zorro, Zorro Chilote or Zorro de Darwin is a small fox found on Chiloe Islands Nahuelbuta National Park in mainland Chile. It names was taken from Charles Darwin who first collected the animal from San Pedro Island off the coast of Chile. Darwin's fox has a vast diet. In dense forests, where it exists, the foxes hunt for mammals, reptiles, beetles, and invertebrates. Sometimes it selects fruits and berries.


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Persecution by people, diminished forest habitation for the foxes, and the presence of feral dogs are the believed to cause the decline of their population. Presently, there are around 250 Darwin’s foxes on Chiloe Island and up to 70 on the mainland.

Red Wolf (Canis lupus rufus) is a North American canid which originally roamed throughout Southeastern United States. It measures 111-165 cm in total length and weighs 16-41 kg. It is mostly brown and buff colored on the upper part of the body with some black along backs. It has long tail, from 30-43 cm, which is bushy and black tipped.


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Conservation programs for the red wolves began in 1973. Captive breeding programs were established at the Point Defiance Zoological Gardens, Tacoma, Washington. Since then, more centers provided protection for the wolves and eventually, some were even released to the wild. In 2007, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that there were 300 red wolves remaining in the world, with 207 of those in captivity.

Himalayan Wolf (Canis himalayensis) inhabits an area of 70,000 km2 in the trans-Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The wolves are adapted to cold climate


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In 2000-2001, four of the Zoological Parks of India kept 21 individuals. Eighteen Himalayan wolves are being bred in captivity. They were captured in the wild and are now being preserved in the trans-Himalayan region of India. Presently, the Himalayan wolves have a population of 350 animals.

Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis) is also known as the Abyssinian wolf, Abyssinian fox, red jackal, Simien fox, or Simien jackal. It is a fox native Africa, particularly found at altitudes of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) in the Afro-alpine regions of Ethiopia. Resembling a coyote, the wolf measures 84-102 cm long and weighs 11-19.5 kg. The coat is ochre to rusty red on the face, ears and upper portions of the body and white to pale ginger on the underparts. Small white spots are present on the cheeks, as well as a white ascending crescent below the eyes.


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Fewer than 500 remain today owing to the increased pressure from agriculture, high altitude grazing, hybridization with domestic dogs, direct persecution, and diseases such as rabies. A 2003 study on the Ethiopian wolf resulted in the conclusion that the key to its survival resides in securing its habitat and isolating its population from the impact of people, livestock and domestic dogs.

References: Island Fox, Darwin’s Fox, Red Wolf, Ethiopian wolf, and Himalayan wolf

Related Articles: Critically Endangered Albatross, Critically Endangered Woodpeckers, Nine Critically Endangered Hummingbirds, Ten Critically Endangered Parrots, Ten Critically Endangered Eagles and Vultures, World’s Critically Endangered Spiders, Nine Critically Endangered Pigeons and Doves

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Comments (13)

A fascinating article! I learned quite a bit and I loved the pictures

I personally think if man leaves the species of the wild alone they balance themselves. Well done article.

This is outstanding information.

All beautiful animals.  I will have to come back tomorrow with a vote.

Veru interesting article!  I really like foxes and wolves, and am sorry to hear all these are endangered.

The world would be a lesser place without these endangered wolves and foxes.

Great information. Yet another great piece of writing... Voted up!

Well-written and well-illustrated discussion on these endangered wild life.

Ranked #60 in Wildlife & Nature

Another great article highlighting the plight of endangered species, well done!

A magnificent post, my friend! There are unfortunately so many endangered species on the planet Earth! Extremely well researched and the photos are so beautiful. Thank you. 

Very interesting post!  The images are awesome. Thanks

Excellent, well thought out write up...

Until we control human population growth other species will continue to struggle to survive in our shadow.