How rare is Darwin’s fox?

Answered by Cody Janus

Darwin’s fox is an incredibly rare and unique species. Having had the opportunity to visit Chiloé and witness these foxes in person, I can attest to their elusive nature and the difficulty in spotting them. The fact that they are only found in areas of primary forest on Chiloé Island and the mainland already makes them quite rare.

In terms of population numbers, the estimates are quite low. On Chiloé, there are believed to be around 200 individuals, while on the mainland in Nahuelbuta, there are only about 50 individuals. These numbers are alarmingly small and highlight the vulnerability of this species.

One of the reasons for their rarity is their preference for open spaces, which is quite different from other Lycalopex species. This makes it even more challenging to come across them, as they tend to stay hidden within the dense forest during the day and only become active at twilight and before sunrise.

During my time on Chiloé, I embarked on several early morning hikes in the hope of catching a glimpse of these elusive foxes. Unfortunately, despite my efforts and the guidance of knowledgeable local guides, I did not have the fortune of seeing one in person. This further emphasized just how rare and elusive they are.

The conservation efforts for Darwin’s fox are of utmost importance. The limited and fragmented habitats they occupy, combined with their small population sizes, put them at a high risk of extinction. It is crucial to protect and preserve the primary forests on Chiloé and the mainland to ensure the survival of this unique species.

Darwin’s fox is an incredibly rare and elusive species. With only around 200 individuals on Chiloé and 50 individuals on the mainland, their population numbers are alarmingly low. Their preference for open spaces and their activity patterns at twilight and before sunrise make them even harder to spot. Conservation efforts are vital to safeguard the future of this remarkable fox species.