Baseline Study on the Arabian Red Fox
As the primary predator on the DDCR, the Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica) has the ability to have an impact on other species such as the Gordon’s Wild Cat (Felis silvestris gordoni), Rueppell’s Fox (Vulpes rueppellii) and Macqueen’s Bustard through both competition and predation. A baseline study was required to gain a better understanding of the Arabian Red Fox within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
- To survey the DDCR in order to locate and record all the fox dens in the reserve, thereby forming a baseline against which any future studies can be compared.
- To record all the den locations onto a Garmin GPS and upload these co-ordinates onto geographical information system (ArcGIS). Thereby enabling den locations to be compared to other geographical information such as habitat and vegetation distribution.
- The collection of photographic and video footage of the activity in and around active fox dens, using a Bushnell trophy cam, infrared camera trap.
- Using a recent satellite map the reserve divided into various habitats; shifting dunes, vegetated dunes and gravel plains.
- To limit the impact on the environment, the different habitats were assessed with a Yamaha Rhino ATV, and then potential areas are surveyed on foot.
- Once a fox den has been located its location is recorded onto the Garmin GPS and it is classified as active or inactive based on signs of activity (tracks, fresh faeces, etc.)
- All den locations are the downloaded onto ArcGIS for further spatial analysis.
- An infrared camera trap is deployed at select active dens for a minimum of two weeks to record photographs and video footage of activity in and around the den site.
- Establish the preferred habitat for Arabian Red fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica) dens within the DDCR.
- Maps that indicate both the distribution and population density of Arabian Red fox within the DDCR
- An estimation of the current Arabian Red fox population within the DDCR.
- A better understanding of Arabian Red Fox behaviour, e.g. average pack size, den selection, duration of use and reasons for changing den sites.
- Together all the outputs will provide a useful management tool for site selection of potential reintroductions of the smaller predators and Macqueen’s Bustard.