Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 March 2019 | 11(5): 13557–13562


Distribution and morphometric measurements of Blanford’s Fox Vulpes cana (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Abdulhadi Aloufi 1  & Ehab Eid 2


1 Taibah University, Faculty of Science, Biology Department, Medinah. Saudi Arabia.

2 P.O. Box 831051, Abdel Aziz El Thaalbi Street, Shmesani 11183, Amman, Jordan.

1 (corresponding author), 2



doi:   |  ZooBank:


Editor: Pritpal S. Soorae, Environment Agency, Abu Dubai, UAE.         Date of publication: 26 March 2019 (online & print)


Manuscript details: #4297 | Received 26 May 2018 | Final received 16 March 2019 | Finally accepted 20 March 2019


Citation: Aloufi, A. & E. Eid (2019). Distribution and morphometric measurements of Blanford’s Fox Vulpes cana (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of Threatened Taxa 11(5): 13557–13562.


Copyright: © Aloufi & Eid 2019. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: Self-funded.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Mr. Adel Alghamdi, Mr. Tareq Alatawi, Mr. Mohamed Alharbi and Eyad Aloufi for their help in the field. Appreciation is extended to Abdullah Al Rabadi for his help in photography. Lastly, thanks are extended to Dr Mohammad Alshamleh for his assistance in developing the map.


Abstract: A study on Blanford’s Fox was conducted from Tabuk Province, a poorly studied area of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), from December 2015 until May 2016.  This study adds to our knowledge, where two survey methods were used, which are the live trapping and camera trapping methods.  Five specimens were captured alive, in addition to a dead specimen reported during the survey period.  Measurements of live, captured specimens were obtained and the skull of the dead specimen was measured.  The information provided will serve as a basis for future monitoring of Blanford’s Fox in Saudi Arabia, and it will provide the foundation for future research in the species’ range of occurrence in the Arabian Peninsula.  In addition, more attention shall be paid to establish a joint collaboration between scholars from Saudi Arabia and Jordan to assess the status of Blanford’s Fox along the sandstone escarpments Hisma plateau.


Keywords: Blanford’s Fox, distribution, morphometric measurements, skull, Tabuk Province.

The Blanford’s Fox is a small canid species, which is associated with mountainous habitats (Smith et al. 2003; Eid et al. 2015).  This species was categorized as Least Concern by the IUCN, as evidence suggests that it has a relatively wide distribution despite being largely confined to mountainous regions (Hoffmann 2015).  Studies on the Blanford’s Fox’s distribution, morphological characteristics, and behavior from the arid mountainous regions of the Arabian Peninsula has expanded with records from Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates (Mendelssohn et al. 1987; Al Safadi 1990; Kingdon 1990; Nader 1990; Harrison & Bates 1991; Geffen et al. 1992; Al-Khalili 1993; Geffen et al. 1993; Stuart & Stuart 1995; Qumsiyeh 1996; Al Jumaily 1998; Al Jumaily et al. 1998; Disi & Hatough-Bouran 1999; Spalton & Willis 1999; Llewellyn- Smith 2000; Cunningham & Howarth 2002; Drew 2003; Abu Baker et al. 2004; Al Jumaily et al. 2012; Eid et al. 2013, 2015).

Information from Saudi Arabia, however, is still limited due to limited research attempts and monitoring programs.  J. Gasperetti reported a road-killed specimen 40km south east of Biljurshi in Saudi Arabia, and another specimen was found in the vicinity of Asir photographed by Mrs. Collenette at Jabal Shada (Harrison & Bates 1989).  Cunningham & Wronski (2009) from Saudi Arabia obtained further records and despite the available information, records are sparse and often limited.  Williams et al. (2004) studied the basal metabolic rate and total evaporative water loss of the Blanford’s Fox in the Arabian Peninsula.  Cunningham & Wronski (2009) updated the distribution map of the Blanford’s Fox in Saudi Arabia and provided new range expansion in northern and central Saudi Arabia.  Despite these efforts, more details are needed on this species from Saudi Arabia.

This paper contributes to our understanding of the Blanford’s Fox from Bajdah at Tabuk governorate in the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia.  The information provided improves our knowledge about the distribution range of this species, and its activity period.  Although single skull morphometric measurements were provided, it could be used for comparison purposes with other regions, and could lead to future investigations on evolutionary significance.


Study Area

Bajdah is located at the northwestern side of the Tabuk governorate in Saudi Arabia (28.3990N & 36.5710E) with an elevation exceeding 1,167m (Figure 1).  It is part of the Hisma plateau (28.6660N & 35.70E) in the Arabian Shield, which covers around 3,699.29km2 and its geology is composed mainly of late Cambrian and Ordovician sandstone (Image 1).  The surveyed area in Bajdah was approximately 42km2, which overlie the metamorphosed Precambrian volcanic and volcaniclastic basement rocks of the Arabian Shield, mixed with green schist and sedimentary rock (Llewellyn et al. 2010).  The flora composition is represented by several species including Ferula assafoetida, Ficus populifolia, Retama raetam and Capparis cartilaginea (Llewellyn 2013; Aloufi pers. comm. 2016).  In addition, the site is also important for mammals where several species were recorded including the Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis, Nubian Ibex Capra nubiana, Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena, and the Arabian Wolf Canis lupus (Llewellyn 2013)



Live-trapping Method

Live-traps manufactured locally, with a dimension of 100 x 40 x 40cm mesh size were used from December 2015 to May 2016.  During a total of 432 trapping nights, all traps were placed in the field for three successive nights, and distributed in different locations depending on accessibility.  Traps were hidden as much as possible to provide shelter for the captured animals as well as to prevent the traps from being taken by local people.   Traps were checked every morning and reset late in the afternoon using chicken and sheep viscera as bait.  When a specimen was captured, it was marked by cutting some hair from different parts of the body, identified, sexed, measured morphometrically using a digital caliper and a measuring tape, after which the captured specimens were released at the same capture site (Eid et al. 2015). 


Camera-trapping Method

HCO NightXplorer UWAY-NX50 cameras were used with a total of 192 camera-trapping nights.  Cameras were programmed for still photos, and they were fixed to stones at different locations, which were selected randomly.  The bait was placed in front of the cameras at a distance of approximately five meters to increase capturing probability.  Cameras were fixed in the late afternoon and removed in the early morning of the following day to upload photos for analysis (Eid et al. 2015).



A total of five specimens of Blanford’s Fox (2 females, 3 males) were captured live, with no recaptured attempts.  In addition, a single killed male specimen was recorded at a Bedouin tent.  Morphometric measurements were obtained for all specimens including the dead one (Table 1; Image 2).

In addition, authors obtained the skull measurements from the killed specimen following Onar et al. (2005) (Table 2).  Camera traps have confirmed the presence of the Blanford’s Fox with a maximum of two foxes per photo (Image 3).  According to the camera trap results, the peak of activity was analyzed based on photos uploaded, and it started after 19:00h with the highest peak at around 05:00h followed by 24:00h.  In addition, the Red Fox was captured by photo, where it has an activity period commencing at 01:00h, with a peak after 05:00h.



This research is significant since it enhanced our knowledge on the Blanford’s Fox from a poorly surveyed region in Saudi Arabia.  This survey revealed a new distribution range and provided more evidence on the habitat preferences of this species (Amr 2000; Smith et al. 2003; Eid et al. 2015).  Authors believe that the extent of occurrence of this species is large, and extend from the current locality at Bajdha in Saudi Arabia to Wadi Rum in Jordan.  However, the area of occupancy is small, referring to the small population collected from Jordan and Saudi Arabia where five specimens were captured in 432 trapping nights in Saudi Arabia, compared to six individuals collected in 520 trapping nights from Wadi Rum (Abu Baker et al. 2004).   The low trapping frequency highlights the necessity for more research on population size as well as reconsidering the most recent Red List status of this species as Least Concern (Hoffmann et al. 2015).  In addition, the most recent assessment for carnivores in the Arabian Peninsula stated that the Blandfor’s Fox is a vulnerable species (Mallon & Budd 2011), which indicates the necessity for a global review to the status of this species. Potential collaboration between scholars from Saudi Arabia and Jordan might reveal more interesting information, and cross-border protected areas may provide a possible solution.

The dead specimen of Blanford’s Fox was found near a Bedouin tent killed by accident, since the shooter considered it as a threat, after it approached the herd late at night (A. Aloufi pers. comm. 03 July 2017).  It is believed that the fox approached the vicinity of the herd for feeding on insects present at the site.  Cunningham & Howarth (2002) stated that Blanford’s Fox’s diet consists mainly of invertebrates and fruits in the United Arab Emirates.  Geffen et al. (1992) and Ilany (1983) found the Blanford’s Fox to be primarily insectivorous and frugivorous, whereas Roberts (1977) found them to be largely frugivorous in Pakistan.  Eid et al. (2015) stated that Coleopterans, goat hair, and unidentified bones were also present in the fox’s diet, in addition to Juniper fruits.  Human persecution is a major threat to Blanford’s Foxes in Jordan (Abu Baker et al. 2004), as Eid et al. (2013) stated that Jordanians do not differentiate between fox species.  Aloufi & Eid 2016 stated that foxes flesh is used in treating diabetes mellitus and jaundice in Saudi Arabia. However, the killed specimen was not used for folk medicine according to our survey. 

The skull of the Blanford’s Fox is intermediate in size between the Sand Fox, Vulpes rueppelli, and the Fennic Fox, Vulpes zerda.  Our survey records obtained from the killed specimen’s skull was in accordance to Harrison & Bates (1991) with a dental formula obtained from the killed Blanford’s Fox skull was i 3/3, c 1/1, p 4/4, m 2/3, with a total of 42.  In addition, all measurements are in the range described by Harrison & Bates (1991), though the greatest skull measurement is smaller when compared to the measurements obtained and indicated in Table 3 below.  It is important to note that the skulls from the Oman population are the largest with lengths reaching 99.8mm.  However, specimens described from Mendelssohn et al. (1987) showed a skull range of 90.7 to 94.4mm for the six specimens measured.  These results enhanced our understanding, and provided a new reference for skull measurements for this species from the Arabian Peninsula.

Data obtained from photo surveillance cameras indicated that the Red and Blanford’s Fox do not appear within the same time duration.  The peak for the nocturnal Blanford’s Fox was around 05.00h followed by 24.00h compared with a peak at 05.00h for the Red Fox.  Eid et al. (2015) indicated a peak activity at 04.00 in the early morning, and Geffen et al. (2004) stated that the onset of activity was triggered by dim light (sunset).  The conversation with the Bedouin indicated that the specimen was killed after 04.00h.  These results confirm that the Blanford’s Fox is a strictly nocturnal species, and strengthens the hypothesis proposed by Geffen et al. (1992) that the nocturnal activity period is to avoid predation, including from the Red Fox.  The knowledge obtained from this survey is important, and support earlier research attempts (Eid et al. 2015), though more specific research should be conducted to get more details about this secretive species.


Table 1. Morphometric measurements of live captured Blanford’s fox (W – weight | HB - Head and Body Length | T - Tail Length | E - Ear Length | FA - Forearm Length | HF - Hind arm Length).




W (kg)

HB (mm)

T (mm)

E (mm)

FA (mm)

HF (mm)










































Male- killed









Table 2. Skull measurements of the Blanford’s Fox.

A - Dorsal view

Skull length


Facial length


Upper neurocranium length


Cranial length


Viscerocranial length


Greatest length of the nasals


Snout length


Least breadth between the orbits


Frontal breadth


Least breadth of skull


Maximum width of neurocranium


Maximum zygomatic width


B - Ventral view

Condylobasal length


Basal length


Median palatal length


Length of the horizontal part of the palatine


Length of the horizontal part of the palatine-1


Palatal length


Greatest breadth of the palatine (P4 level)


Least palatal breadth


Breadth at the canine alveoli


Length of the premolar row


Length of the molar row


Length of the cheektooth row


Greatest diameter of the auditory bulla


Breadth dorsal to the external auditory meatus


A - Left-Lateral view

Greatest inner height of orbit


Neurocranium length


Braincase length


Skull height


B - Occipital view

Height of the occipital triangle


Height of the foramen magnum


Maximum width of the foramen magnum


Maximum width of occipital condyles


Greatest breadth of the bases of the jugular process


Greatest mastoid breadth




Table 3. Comparison between skull measurements as stated by Harrison & Bates (1991) and Mendelssohn et al. (1987).




Current Survey

Harrison & Bates (1991) and Mendelssohn et al. (1987)

Greatest skull length


94.1 ± 3.1

Condylobasal length


87.0 ± 5.1

Zygomatic width


49.1 ± 3.0

Width of Braincase


35.8 ± 0.9

Interorbital constriction


16.9 ± 0.8


For figure / image  - click here




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