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25th March 2022 (6 Topics)

Mange in Jaisalmer’s desert foxes worries experts


Wildlife conservationists have expressed concern after locals spotted a few desert foxes, found in the scrub forests of Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, suffering from a loss of fur due to the mange skin disease.


About Mange Skin Disease:

  • Sarcoptic mange is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei.
  • When the infected animal scratches and the skin break, it lays eggs and multiplies.
  • The affected area becomes scabbed and no hair grows there.
  • The parasitic mite that causes mange lives in the hair follicles and causes irritation and itching.
  • Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious skin disease which can affect a variety of wild, domestic and farmed animals.

About foxes in India:

  • India is home to three fox species and three subspecies:
    • the Indian Fox,
    • Tibetan Sand Fox
    • The Red Fox, which has three subspecies:
      • Desert Fox,
      • the Tibetan Red Fox and
      • the Kashmir Red Fox
  • India’s fox species occupy a range of habitats, including arid areas, grasslands, agricultural fields and snow-capped mountains.
  • The Red Fox is the most versatile in terms of habitat adaptation and can reside in open drylands as well as high-altitude areas.
  • Even though their population is not threatened, the population of desert foxes has been in decline over the last decade.
    • Cultivation and urbanization of lands has reduced their habitat areas and that threat will only get worse in the future.
    • One of the biggest threats the desert fox faces is disease from domestic animals like dogs, which prove fatal to them.

About Desert Fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla):

  • Desert Fox or the White-footed Fox is one of the most widely-distributed carnivores in the world.
  • They are a subspecies of the Red Fox and are generally found in the desert regions of northwest India.
  • The yellowish-brown coat of the Desert Fox helps them camouflage against the brown hues of their habitat.
  • Desert Foxes mainly feed on rodents and gerbils by digging them out of their burrows or stalking and hunting them.
  • They are known for the complex dens they create during the breeding season to protect newly-born pups.
  • In the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), the Indian desert fox is a Schedule I species.
  • Desert fox can be seen in the Desert National Park and Tal Chhapar Sanctuary (specially the Guashala region) in Rajasthan. Gujarat’s Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Little Rann of Kutch, also hosts the desert fox.

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