The Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a least concern carnivore according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2016). However, in Pakistan Red fox is considered as Near Threatened (NT), due to habitat destruction and depletion of food resources. The objective of the study was to identify habitat preferences and population density of Red fox in District Chakwal, Pakistan. Line transect census method was used to estimate the population density of Red fox through direct sighting and indirect method of burrow counting, presence of footprints and scats. A total of 10 transects were carried out at three potential sites: Devi, Photaki and Chumbisurla Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in Chakwal based on preliminary surveys. Habitat preference was estimated by comparing three different study sites by quadrat method and found that CWS area is preferred habitat for Red fox. A total of 24 plant species were recorded in the study areas, among them Cynodon dactylon is major herb found to provide shelter to Red fox in all study sites based on Importance value Index (I.V.I) at CWS (IVI=208.8) followed by Devi (IVI=185.93) and Photaki (IVI=142.33). The maximum population density of Red fox through direct sighting at CWS having 0.26 individuals/km2 compared to Devi and Photaki having 0.16 and 0.13 individuals/km2, respectively. The indirect estimation method revealed that maximum dens were found in CWS area compared to Devi and Photaki, while footprints and scats were found maximum in Devi and Photaki, respectively. It is concluded that Red fox preferred habitat is CWS site. Habitat destruction and conflicts with fox are causing the population of the Red fox to dwindle in Chakwal, Pakistan.
& Rakha, B. A.
Population Density, Habitat Characteristics and Preferences of Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Chakwal, Pakistan,
Journal of Bioresource Management, 7