Bengal fox

The Bengal fox (Vulpes bengalensis), also known as the Indian fox, is a fox endemic to the Indian subcontinent and is found from the Himalayan foothills and Terai of Nepal through southern India[2] and from southern and eastern Pakistan to eastern India and southeastern Bangladesh.[3][4][5]

Bengal fox
Black tailed fox (Bengal Fox) at Desert NP (cropped)
Bengal fox at Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, India
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Vulpes
Species:
V. bengalensis
Binomial name
Vulpes bengalensis
(Shaw, 1800)
Vulpes-bengalensis-map
Range map
Synonyms

Canis kokree
Canis rufescens
Canis indicus
Vulpes xanthura

Appearance

VulpesBengalensisFBI
Skull

Vulpes bengalensis is a relatively small fox with an elongated muzzle, long, pointed ears, and a bushy tail about 50 to 60% of the length of the head and body. Its dorsal pelage is very variable, but mostly grayish and paler ventrally; its legs tend to be brownish or rufous. It is more daintily built than Vulpes vulpes.[6] The tail is bushy with a prominent black tip which distinguishes it from V. vulpes. Back of ears are dark brown with black margin. Its rhinarium is naked and the lips are black, with small black hair patches on upper part of nuzzle (shaft) in front of eyes. The ears have the same colour as the nape or maybe darker, but not having a dark patch as in V. vulpes. Extensive variation in coat colour exists across populations and seasonally within populations, but generally varies from grey to pale brown. The head and body length is 18 in (46 cm), with a 10 in (25 cm) long tail. Typical weight is 5 to 9 pounds (2.3 to 4.1 kg).[3]

The genus Vulpes can be separated from Canis and Cuon in the Indian region by the flat forehead between the postorbital processes and not inflated by air cells. The processes themselves are slightly concave with a raised anterior edge (convexly round in other canids). The canine teeth are longer.[7]

Indian Fox 2 at Rajkot
Bengal fox at Rajkot
Bengal Fox Pup
2-3 week old pup at the Little Rann of Kutch; notice the black tail tip

Distribution

Indian Fox at Little Rann of Kutch
Female Bengal fox at den site in the Little Rann of Kutch
Indian Fox in a Grassland
Male Bengal fox

The species is found throughout much of the Indian subcontinent with the exception of the wet forests and the extreme arid zone. The distribution is bounded by the Himalayan range and the Indus River valley. The preferred habitat is short open grassland, scrub or thorn forest. They appear to avoid steep terrain, tall grassland.[3] Indian foxes were considered to be habitat generalists, but recent studies have shown a strong preference for semiarid, short grassland habitats at multiple scales.[8]

Behaviour and ecology

Vulpes bengalensis fur skin
Bengal fox pelt

Bengal foxes are mainly crepuscular in their habits. During the heat of the day, they hide under vegetation or in subterranean dens that they dig. The dens are large and complex with multiple chambers and escape routes. They are sometimes seen basking at a vantage point around sunrise or sunset.[9] In captivity, the lifespan is about 6 to 8 years.[3]

Diet

The Bengal fox feeds on rodents, reptiles, crabs, termites, insects, small birds, and fruits.[10] Scats of young pups appeared to show that they fed mainly on rodents[11] but are opportunistic feeders.[9]

Indian Fox in Siruguppa
Bengal fox

Communication

Foxes make a wide range of vocalizations. A chattering cry is the most common call. They also growl, whine, whimper, and bark. The Bengal fox does not appear to have latrine behaviour, a feature seen in some social canids, in which all members defecate at specific spots.[9] They can be heard howling in the night in groups.

Reproduction

The Bengal fox forms pair bonds that may last a lifetime, but extra-pair copulations are known to occur. Throughout most of its range, the mating season starts in autumn (usually October–November) and after a gestation period around 50–60 days, two to four pups are born in a den. Both parents participate in pup-rearing. The pups are fully weaned about 3–4 months after emerging from the den. Pup mortality is high during the first few months.[12] Pups may sometimes be nursed by multiple females.[9] During the day, they tend to rest under shrubs and bushes, except in summer when they rest in dens.

Threats

Lack of habitat protection is perhaps the greatest threat to the Indian fox. For example, in southern India, less than 2% of potential Indian fox habitat is covered under the existing protected area network of the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh .[13] Hunting for its skin and flesh, as well as conversion of its grassland habitat to agriculture, industry, and increasingly bio-fuel plantations, have affected its population density. In addition, its body parts are used in traditional medicine, and in some areas it is eaten. They are hunted by the narikuruva tribes of southern India.[9] In Karnataka, they are captured in rituals conducted during Sankranthi.[3] Another major threat is disease such as canine distemper virus and rabies, which spills over from the large unvaccinated populations of free-ranging dogs found throughout their range.[14]

References

  1. ^ Johnsingh, A.J.T. & Jhala, Y.V. (2008). "Vulpes bengalensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2006-05-11.
  2. ^ Vanak, A.T. (2005). "Distribution and status of the Indian fox Vulpes bengalensis in southern India" (PDF). Canid News. 8 (1).
  3. ^ a b c d e Gompper, ME & A.T. Vanak (2006). "Vulpes bengalensis" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 795: 1–5. doi:10.1644/795.1.
  4. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  5. ^ Mivart, St George (1890). "Dogs, jackals, wolves and foxes: A monograph of the Canidae". R H Porter, London: 126–131.
  6. ^ Menon, Vivek (2009). Mammals of India. Princeton Field Guides. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14067-4.
  7. ^ Pocock RI (1937). "The foxes of British India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 39 (1): 36–57.
  8. ^ Vanak, A.T. & Gompper, M.E. (2010). "Multiscale resource selection and spatial ecology of the Indian fox in a human-dominated dry grassland ecosystem". Journal of Zoology. 281 (2): 140–148. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2010.00690.x.
  9. ^ a b c d e Johnsingh, A.J.T. (1978). "Some aspects of the ecology and behaviour of the Indian fox Vulpes bengalensis Shaw". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 75: 397–405.
  10. ^ Vanak AT & Gompper ME (2009). "Dietary niche separation between sympatric free-ranging dogs and Indian foxes in central India". J. Mammal. 90 (5): 1058–1065. doi:10.1644/09-mamm-a-107.1.
  11. ^ Manakadan, R & A R Rahmani (2000). "Population and ecology of the Indian fox Vulpes bengalensis at Rollapadu wildlife sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh, India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 97 (1): 3–14.
  12. ^ Vanak, A.T. & Gompper, M.E. (2007). "Effectiveness of non-invasive techniques for surveying activity and habitat use of the Bengal fox Vulpes bengalensis in southern India". Wildlife Biology. 13: 219–224. doi:10.2981/0909-6396(2007)13[219:eontfs]2.0.co;2.
  13. ^ Vanak, A.T.; Irfan-Ullah, M. & Peterson, T. (2008). "Gap analysis of Indian fox conservation using ecological niche modeling". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 105 (1): 49–54.
  14. ^ Belsare, A. V., A. T. Vanak, and M. E. Gompper (2014). "Epidemiology of viral pathogens of free‐ranging dogs and Indian foxes in a human‐dominated landscape in central India." Transboundary and emerging diseases 61.s1 : 78-86. PDF

External links

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Bethuadahari Wildlife Sanctuary

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Egyptian weasel

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Fauna of India

India has some of the world's most biodiverse regions. The political boundaries of India encompass a wide range of ecozones—desert, high mountains, highlands, tropical and temperate forests, swamplands, plains, grasslands, areas surrounding rivers, as well as island archipelago. It hosts

4 biodiversity hotspots:the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the Indo-Burma region and the Sundaland (Includes Nicobar group of Islands). These hotspots have numerous endemic species.India, for the most part, lies within the Indomalaya ecozone, with the upper reaches of the Himalayas forming part of the Palearctic ecozone; the contours of 2000 to 2500m are considered to be the altitudinal boundary between the Indo-Malayan and Palearctic zones. India displays significant biodiversity. One of seventeen megadiverse countries, it is home to 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of all avian, 6.2% of all reptilian, 4.4% of all amphibian, 11.7% of all fish, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species.The region is also heavily influenced by summer monsoons that cause major seasonal changes in vegetation and habitat.

India forms a large part of the Indomalayan biogeographical zone and many of the floral and faunal forms show Malayan affinities with only a few taxa being unique to the Indian region. The unique forms includes the snake family Uropeltidae found only in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Fossil taxa from the Cretaceous show links to the Seychelles and Madagascar chain of islands. The Cretaceous fauna include reptiles, amphibians and fishes and an extant species demonstrating this phylogeographical link is the purple frog. The separation of India and Madagascar is traditionally estimated to have taken place about 88 million years ago. However, there are suggestions that the links to Madagascar and Africa were present even at the time when the Indian subcontinent met Eurasia. India has been suggested as a ship for the movement of several African taxa into Asia. These taxa include five frog families (including the Myobatrachidae), three caecilian families, a lacertid lizard and freshwater snails of the family Potamiopsidae. A thirty million year old Ologocene era fossil tooth from the Bugti Hills of central Pakistan has been identified as from a lemur-like primate, prompting controversial suggestions that the lemurs may have originated in Asia. Lemur fossils from India in the past led to theories of a lost continent called Lemuria. This theory however was dismissed when continental drift and plate tectonics became well established.

The flora and fauna of India have been studied and recorded from early times in folk traditions and later by researchers following more formal scientific approaches (See Natural history in India). Game laws are reported from the third century BC.A little under 5% of this total area is formally classified under protected areas.

India is home to several well-known large mammals, including the Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, leopard and Indian rhinoceros. Some of these animals are engrained in culture, often being associated with deities.

These large mammals are important for wildlife tourism in India, and several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries cater to these needs. The popularity of these charismatic animals have helped greatly in conservation efforts in India. The tiger has been particularly important, and Project Tiger, started in 1972, was a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitats. Project Elephant, though less known, started in 1992 and works for elephant protection. Most of India's rhinos today survive in the Kaziranga National Park.

Some other well-known large Indian mammals are: ungulates such as the water buffalo, nilgai, gaur and several species of deer and antelope. Some members of the dog family such as the Indian wolf, Bengal fox, golden jackal and the dhole or wild dogs are also widely distributed. It is also home to the striped hyaena. Many smaller animals such as macaques, langurs and mongoose species are especially well known due to their ability to live close to or inside urban areas Adhu.

Ferret-badger

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Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)

Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)

Fox

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Twelve species belong to the monophyletic "true foxes" group of genus Vulpes. Approximately another 25 current or extinct species are always or sometimes called foxes; these foxes are either part of the paraphyletic group of the South American foxes, or of the outlying group, which consists of bat-eared fox, gray fox, and island fox. Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with about 47 recognized subspecies. The global distribution of foxes, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their prominence in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.

Galerella

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Four of the species have long been established:

A recent addition is the black mongoose, Galerella nigrata, which now is considered a separate species by many scientists, following genetic analysis. It was previously seen as a variant of Galerella sanguinea.

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List of mammals of Kaziranga National Park

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Vulpes

Vulpes is a genus of the Canidae. The members of this genus are colloquially referred to as true foxes, meaning they form a proper clade. The word "fox" occurs on the common names of species. True foxes are distinguished from members of the genus Canis, such as dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, by their smaller size (5–11 kg) and flatter skulls. They have black, triangular markings between their eyes and noses, and the tips of their tails are often a different color from the rest of their pelts. The typical lifespan for this genus is between two and four years, but can reach up to a decade.For animals commonly known as "foxes", but which are not true foxes, see Fox#Classification.

Extant Carnivora species

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