An adult fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) stands on top of a sand dune in the Tunisian desert. It is the quintessential desert animal, whose range covers almost the entire North of Africa and the whole Sahara. Small dunes and sparse vegetation, which make the sand firmer, being its typical habitat.
With its 1,5 Kg of weight and the striking size of its ears, the fennec has both the smallest size and the largest ears among all the world's canids. The latter help this species to locate food and radiate heat.
A tenebrionid beetle walks across the faint track left by a fennec during the night. The life of these foxes is largely dependent upon the presence and density of invertebrates.
Two one-month old fennec pups peek from behind some shrubs near the den entrance. Fennecs' dens consist of burrow dug in the sand, where this is firmer, and are usually located in quiet and concealed corners of the desert.
Fennec pups photographed while playing out of the den in full daylight. Young fennecs are usually born at the end of March and start exploring their surroundings in May. In case of disturbance, a mother can immediately move her pups to another burrow.
At dusk a wary female nurses her pups outside the den burrow. This is probably the first picture ever taken documenting the nursing behaviour in the wild.
A camera-trap setup reveals a fennec digging for beetles among the roots of a Retam broom shrub. Fennec often and quickly dig in the soft sand to search for rodents and invertebrates or find cover.
On a starry night an adult fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) takes a self-portrait by crossing the infrared beam of a camera-trap setup placed along a trail among desert dunes. These foxes are active almost exclusively at night and may roam large distances to locate their prey in the dark silence of the Sahara.
An adult fennec is kept enprisoned in a small sheep pen located in the outskirts of a desert village in southern Tunisia.
The captive fennec fox is tied with a rope to a wheel rim. Caught in the wild as pup, this animal has spent about one year in captivity and treated as a pet by the kid who got it as a present from some desert nomads. The fennec had eventually been released in nature after this picture had been taken – its fate absolutely uncertain.
A few weeks-old and not yet weaned wild fennec pup is held by the local man who caught it, together with its siblings, by digging them out from their den. By exposing it on a famous camel trek site for tourists, he hopes to either sell it or to get paid for pictures of it.
A fennec is displayed in the market (souk), of a Tunisian town. Fit for a life in the silence and solitude of the desert, this individual that had been caught already in adult age showed clear signs of distress and aggressivity in the chaos of a town. It died a few days after this picture had been taken.
“Sultan”, a famous captive fennec that is displayed tied on a rope in front of a tourist shop, is the main attraction in the souk of Douz, desert town of Tunisia. By displaying such a charismatic animal, tourists are often lured to make purchases or pay for pictures. In case of inquiry, although Sultan has been caught as pup in the wild, the owners of the shop reassure the foreigners stating that the animal is “domestic”.
A fennec known as “Labib” has been for years the symbol of nature protection in Tunisia. The cartoon was created under the regime of Ben Ali to promote environmental causes and statues of him, and his family, were ubiquitous across the Country and often the target of vandals. According to Business News, the demise of Labib is because, the ministry of environment said, “Labib's system has failed”.
A young fennec fox is offered on sale to the photographer by an indigent kid of a rural area at the rim of the Sahara. Ancient costumes, lack of conservation reinforcement, high unemployment rates and a difficult socio-political condition that kept deteriorating also on the aftermath of the “Arab spring” revolts, have all determined an alarming situation for the long-term survival of unique Saharan wildlife.
Considered a luck charm, the tail of an adult fennec hangs from a Tunisian car's rear mirror. Although fennecs rarely pose a threat to domestic animals, they are sometimes considered pests by desert people and thus hunted or trapped.
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