The Fascinating Fennec Fox
It is easy to see why so many people fall in love with the Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda). With its large ears, small and delicate face and at a full-grown size of twenty centimeters, they are adorable. But it is because these rare foxes are mercilessly hunted and captured to be sold as domestic animals that this wonderful animal's name has been written on the endangered list.
This nocturnal animal is rarely seen in the wild and so there is uncertainty as to their actual number. The Fennec Fox is easily identified by its sandy colored coat, small body and their remarkable ears that can grow to fifteen centimeters in length. Natural habitats for this fox are desert areas, and the Sahara desert is one of its known territories. Their oversized ears are used to cool their bodies during the day and at night they serve as extremely accurate prey detectors. Fennec Foxes are not fussy eaters and have a diet that ranges from berries and leaves, to small insects, bird eggs and lizards. As they are well adapted to the warm and dry conditions of the desert, the Fennec Fox can survive without water for long periods of time.
The Fennec Fox of Morocco was located in the southern and very dry regions of the country, away from human settlements. Because of the rare opportunities to view these animals, locals began catching them and putting them on display for tourists as a means of income. Species numbers have declined dramatically because of these actions, scaring the families of foxes away from these areas. The survival of the Fennec Fox in Morocco is dangerously threatened by the ignorance of the tourists that purchase the captured foxes and the uneducated locals that use the foxes as a source of income. Conservation efforts to protect the Fennec Fox are underway in Morocco and have already been established in countries such as Niger, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania and Algeria.
Many Fennec Foxes are found in zoos across the world, but no breeding programs have been founded. Fortunately it is much more rewarding to see a Fennec Fox in their natural habitat than in a cage or artificial environment. Even though some organizations house these animals to protect them against hunters, capture and a life as a domestic pet, it still does not answer the plight of the wild foxes. The future of the Fennec Fox in Morocco is one that is filled with uncertainty. It is an amazingly beautiful and fascinating animal that should be allowed to thrive in a world that was created for them, the sand dunes and endless landscapes of the desert.