Vulpes rueppellii (Schinz 1825) Sand Fox
Hebrew name: שועל הנגב, shu’al hanegev
Global Threat: DD – Data Deficient
Regional Threat: EN (A4ce,B,C) - Endangered
Distribution area: The sand fox was forced out of sandy areas in the Arava by the red fox and the wolf during the 1980s (Asa 1990; Giora Ilani, pers. comm.). The present population is limited to arid wadis far from settlements and army camps in the eastern Makhtesh Ramon and the large wadis (Zenifim, Zihor, Qezev). Israel lies at the northern limit of the species distribution .
Historic distribution: The sand fox was once found in the Arava sands and the sandy Haluza-Revivim-Ze’elim area. There are even unconfirmed data from further north in Mishor Yamin and the Dead Sea shores (Ilani 1979, Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988).
Typical Habitat: Sandy areas and the large wadis in the extreme desert (less than 100 mm. annual rainfall).
Threat and Disturbance Factors: Suppression by large canids – wolves and red foxes, as a result of food oversupply from hiker’s trash, agriculture and settlement garbage dumps in the area.
Population Size: Even in the large wadis (Nahal Zenifim, Nahal Zihor and Nahal Qezev) the population is not dense, and comprises up to 10 individuals in each wadi (Reuven Hefner, pers. comm.). The Israeli population estimate is several hundred at the most.
Fluctuations in Population Size: The species distribution area in Israel has decreased by more than 50%.
Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation: Preventing garbage disposal by hikers and eliminating open garbage dumps near settlements and army camps in the large wadis and Makhtesh Ramon area. Surplus food leads to growth and spread of large canid populations (e.g. wolf and red fox) that drive out the sand fox.