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Historical Sighting of Critically Endangered Fox in Chile

Camera traps deployed in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and the adjacent Alerce Costero National Park in southern Chile have revealed the presence of the critically endangered Darwin's fox (Lycalopex fulvipes).

Before the sightings it was believed that Darwin’s fox, endemic to Chile, only inhabited two other regions in southernmost Chile and that there were between 250 to 1,000 of them left. The researchers that confirmed the sightings have described the discovery as a “ray of hope” for this fox, currently amongst the world’s nine most endangered carnivorous species.

The whole process from the first sightings to the scientific confirmation of the discovery took just over a year and involved park rangers, conservation practitioners and scientists from different institutions including The Nature Conservancy, Chilean and US universities, and local authorities. The fox was sighted in two private protected areas, Oncol Park and Valdivian Coastal Reserve, and one public protected area the Alerce Costero National Park. The latter was created in 2012 with support from The Nature Conservancy.

Fauna monitoring, one of the activities included in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve’s conservation management plan, enables our conservation practitioners to gather key data on biodiversity to ensure effective conservation is being accomplished.

Charles Darwin was the first scientist to describe the fox in 1834 when he saw it on Chiloé Island in southern Chile. It is described as a small, stout fox, with short tail and short legs, a dark coat and reddish ears.

 

Photo from the Valdivian Coastal Reserve's camera traps showing one of the foxes confirmed to be a Darwin's fox


 

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