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Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Population estimates

  • Global population size unknown (Sillero-Zubiri 2009a)
  • Considered common through most of its range (Wacher et al. 2015)
    • Common throughout the Sahara Desert (Asa and Cuzin 2013)

Population structure

  • Populations less genetically diverse compared to other canid species of North Africa (Leite et al. 2015; Karssene, Nowak, et al. 2019)

Conservation Status


  • Least Concern (2015 assessment) (Wacher et al. 2015)
  • Previous assessments (Wacher et al. 2015)
    • 2008: Least Concern
    • 1996, 2004: Data Deficient
    • 1990, 1994: Insufficiently Known


Government laws and regulations

  • Countries where legally protected (Sillero-Zubiri 2009a; Castelló 2018):
    • Morocco (including Western Sahara)
    • Algeria
    • Tunisia
    • Egypt

Threats to Survival


  • No major range-wide threats (Wacher et al. 2015)
    • Impacts of live animal trade (see below) may not yet be recognized (Harrington 2015)
  • Populations stable in sandy areas away from human settlement (Asa et al. 2004; Wacher et al. 2015)

Commercial hunting and trade

  • Trapped and/or sold in parts of North Africa for (Asa et al. 2004; Asa and Cuzin 2013, except as noted):
    • Photographic exhibition (for tourists) (Sillero-Zubiri 2009a)
    • Pet trade
    • Commercial trade (Harrington 2015)
    • Pups raised for food (Rosevear 1974; Schmidt-Nielsen 1979)
    • Fur and meat used by indigenous peoples of North Africa (Sillero-Zubiri 2009a)
  • Imported to Middle East (Harrington 2015)

Habitat loss

  • Some populations impacted by (Wacher et al. 2015):
    • Expansion of human settlement
    • Road construction
    • Commercial transport routes
    • Oil field development

Climate change

  • Distribution of Fennec Fox in the North Sahara Desert predicted to contract (Karssene et al. 2017)
    • Suitable habitat area predicted to decrease by more than 40% between 2010s and 2050s (Karssene et al. 2017)

Hit by motor vehicles

  • Population-level effects unknown; likely to increase as networks of roads in northern Africa are developed (Brito et al. 2009)

Conservation Outlook

Two fennec foxes at the San Diego Zoo

The fennec fox faces no range-wide threats but is impacted by wildlife trade and global warming.

Fennec foxes are trapped and traded for photo exhibition for tourists, as well as pet and commercial trade markets.

A 2017 study estimates that climate change will cause fennec fox habitat to contract by more than 40% by the 2050s.

Populations are stable in sandy areas away from human settlement.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

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