Amazonia ghost foxes are at stake: rainforests may rob them

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Secretive and cautious predators are threatened by deforestation of their natural habitat.

Beasts in the world who are called small foxes (Atelocynus microtis) live. They belong to the canine family and are the only representatives of the monotypic genus of small foxes. Previously, they were assigned to the genera Lycalopex, Cerdocyon and Dusicyon, but phylogenetic analysis showed that Atelocynus microtis is a separate taxon.

The small fox lives in tropical forests in the Amazon in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The beast was also met in the upper reaches of Orinoco (Colombia) and in the upper reaches of Parana (Brazil). The usual wild habitat for the small fox is a humid rainforest.

These canids are quite small in size: 97-130 cm in length, about 35 cm in height.

Their fur is reddish-brown, with a dark undertone. For the first time, small foxes were documented in travel notes dated 1883, but they were rarely seen by people (once every few years, or even less), until in the early 2000s, scientists started a project during which there were already two ten years track and describe the lifestyle of these animals.

However, data on the population size, ecology and ethology of the species are still insufficient – it is not for nothing that small foxes are called ghosts of the Amazonian forests.

A new study of the Amazonian lowlands revealed that the mysterious “ghost foxes” living among tropical forests could face a new environmental threat: deforestation will reduce their natural habitat by 30 percent by 2027.

The study is based on materials captured by camera traps that were installed on nearly 70,000 square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest to track the movements and behavior of secretive animals.

Researchers collected information from surveillance cameras and combined them with topographic data from the region where recent deforestation was recorded, hoping to better understand how this affected the animals living nearby. They found that in some of the most affected areas, the natural habitat of small foxes — mainly the Amazon rainforests in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador — could decline by as much as 60%.

According to a team of researchers, these foxes are “one of the least studied species of canines in the world” and are currently included in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Although their main source of food is small river fish, insects, and other small animals, foxes eat a significant amount of fruit and help forest ecosystems by distributing plant seeds in their own litter.

Also, due to their small size, foxes often become the prey of jaguars and snakes, which means that a reduction in their numbers will inevitably affect the entire ecosystem. Scientists estimate that the effects of deforestation in the region will affect not only Atelocynus microtis, but also about a quarter of all mammalian species in the Amazon.

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