Habitat and Ecology
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2004Data Deficient (DD)
- 1996Data Deficient (DD)
- 1994Insufficiently Known (K)
- 1990Insufficiently Known (K)
Illegal sale of pups, of amulets made from body parts, and of handicrafts made from fur occurs principally in the markets of Tumbes, Chiclayo, Piura and Lima city. The most common type of handicraft made with fox parts consists of preserved adult animals in a "sitting" position. This activity is limited almost exclusively to the department of Piura, Peru. The practice of magic-religious rituals by shamans involving preserved Sechuran Fox specimens or parts is the principal human use of this species in Peru. The specimens are used to attract "good spirits" or "positive energies" during premonition rituals or to manufacture amulets (called seguros) with different purposes. Some shamans use also the Sechuran Fox's fat for the treatment of bronchial illness and stomach disorders (D. Cossos, unpubl.).
The Sechuran Fox also faces some pressure in agricultural zones and from urbanization and habitat degradation; indeed, habitat reduction or loss is considered the principle threat to this species in Ecuador (Tirira 2001).
Between 1975 and 2000, a governmental authorization was required to hunt the species in Peru. Since 2000, hunting outside the established areas and trade of the species has been prohibited. The police and the Ministry of Agriculture are responsible for the control of illegal trade. However, it has proven especially difficult to control trade in rural areas and in some cities. Currently, there are no international treaties or conventions regarding this species.
This species occurs in several protected areas in Ecuador and Peru.
The Sechuran Fox was not traditionally protected, for cultural reasons, until recently. Now it is protected in Santa Catalina de Chongoyape, a rural community of Lambayeque department, because they are considered important for tourism and as seed dispersers (D. Cossos, unpubl.).
Some specimens are kept in the authorized collections, including Parque de las Leyendas Zoo, Lima (26 specimens) and Atocongo Zoo, Lima (three specimens).
The Sechuran fox (Lycalopex sechurae), also called the Peruvian desert fox or the Sechuran zorro, is a South American species of canid closely related to other South American "false" foxes or zorro, of which it is the smallest. It is found in the Sechura Desert in southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru.
The Sechuran fox is small for a canid, weighing 2.6 to 4.2 kilograms (5.7 to 9.3 lb), with a body length of 50 to 78 centimetres (20 to 31 in) and a tail of 27 to 34 centimetres (11 to 13 in). Its fur is gray agouti over most of the body, fading to white or cream coloured on the underparts. There are reddish brown markings on the backs of the ears, around the eyes, and on the legs. The muzzle is dark grey, and a grey band runs across the chest. Its tail is tipped with black. It has small teeth, adapted to feed on insects and dry plants, with fox-like canine teeth.
Distribution and habitat
First identified in the Sechura desert, the fox inhabits arid environments in southwestern Ecuador and western Peru, at elevations from sea level to at least 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), and possibly much higher. Within this region it has been reported from the western foothills of the Andes down to the coast, inhabiting deserts, dry forests, and beaches. There are no recognised subspecies.
Several fossils of Sechuran foxes are known from the late Pleistocene of Ecuador and Peru, close to the modern range. Genetic analysis suggests that the closest living relative of the Sechuran fox is Darwin's fox, which is native to Chile.
Behavior and diet
The Sechuran fox is nocturnal, and spends the daylight hours in a den dug into the ground. It is generally solitary, although occasionally seen travelling in pairs. Pups are born in October and November, although little else is known of its reproductive behavior.
The fox is an opportunistic feeder, and its diet varies widely depending on the season and local habitat. It has been found to feed on seed pods, especially those of the shrub Prosopis juliflora and of caper bushes, as well as the fruit of Cordia and mito plants, and is capable of surviving on an entirely herbivorous diet when necessary. More commonly, however, it also eats insects, rodents, bird eggs, and carrion as a part of its diet. It can probably survive for long periods of time without drinking, subsisting on the water in its food.
The Sechuran fox is threatened by habitat loss, which has been particularly extensive in Ecuador. They have been known to prey on local livestock, such as chickens, and are hunted both to reduce such attacks and so that their body parts can be used in local handicrafts, folk medicine, or magical rituals. The animal is considered at Low Risk in Ecuador, and hunting is not permitted in Peru without a licence. The species is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Lycalopex sechurae|
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Asa, C., Cossíos, E.D. & Williams, R. (2008). Pseudalopex sechurae. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened
- Asa, C. & Cossios, E.D. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources/Species Survival Commission Canid Specialist Group. pp. 69–72.
- Cossios, E.D. (2010). "Lycalopex sechurae (Carnivora: Canidae)". Mammalian Species 42 (1): 1–6. doi:10.1644/848.1.
- Birdseye, C. (1956). "Observations on a domesticated Peruvian desert fox, Dusicyon". Journal of Mammalogy 37 (2): 284–287. JSTOR 1376706.
- Asa, C. & Wallace, M.P. (1990). "Diet and activity pattern of the Sechuran desert fox (Dusicyon sechurae)". Journal of Mammalogy 71 (1): 69–72. JSTOR 1381318.