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Sly Fox Prevents Opening of Australian Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 26, 2021 1:00 am

Sly Fox Evades Capture Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Rambo the red fox was captured on a camera trap set up in the sanctuary but has evaded capture preventing the introduction of endangered species

Photo Credit: Amanda Carberry/ Columbus Zoo and Aquairum

It's like Fantastic Mr. Fox come to life. A red fox in Australia is the last of his kind left in a newly fenced sanctuary built to protect endangered species. Unfortunately Rambo as he has been nicknamed has evaded capture for 3 years preventing the reintroduction of endangered species.

The new sanctuary in the Pilliga in New South Wales protects 5,800-hectares of land. It has been built as a partnership between the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, as part of the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy will be working to reintroduce regionally-extinct mammals to the Pilliga, including Brush-tailed Bettong, Plains Mouse, Shark Bay Bandicoot and Western Quoll.

Sly Fox Evades Capture Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The predator proof fence at the sanctuary in the Pilliga will protect the species within, once the predators have been removed

Photo Credit: Wayne Lawler/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Fortunately feral predators have already been removed from a smaller fenced breeding area allowing two regionally extinct species, the greater bilby and bridled nailtail wallaby to be reintroduced. These species are awaiting release in to the larger reserve but require it to be feral-predator free.

"We have, on average, 97 cameras permanently deployed on the sanctuary, and this fox shows up approximately every three months on them," said Wayne Sparrow, AWC Pilliga Operations Manager.

"But only two AWC staff members have caught a fleeting glimpse of him in the flesh – once in 2019 when he wandered into a staff camp at night, and once in 2020 when he was flushed out with scent tracking dogs. He’s given us the slip ever since."

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It is suspected that Rambo was born in 2018. Since then AWC have deployed all available measures to remove him from the sanctuary. He has managed to evade 108,000 trap nights, 41 shoot nights (or 465 shoot hours), 2785 baits, and more than 25 days of scent-tracking dogs. The team also took to the air with 14 thermal drone nights and four hours aerial shoot nights, but to no avail.

An average red fox can live for between fix and six years meaning waiting him out is not an option. "We believe this animal was a young kit when we locked the fence in 2018. That makes him about four years old now, so he is getting up there in age," Wayne added.

"He’s grown up being targeted for removal – hence his shy nature. We also need to remember he is now the sole apex predator in an area with an abundant food and water source. He no longer needs to fight for his territory, so it is fair to think he will live longer than average and could well have several years left in him."

Scent tracking dogs will be reintroduced to the sanctuary for a longer period in hopes they can find Rambo.

Sly Fox Evades Capture Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Rambo the red fox was captured on a camera trap set up in the sanctuary but has evaded capture preventing the introduction of endangered species

Photo Credit: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The red fox has become one of the largest threats to Australia's wildlife since they were introduced in the mid-1800s for recreational hunting. Since they have spread across much of Australia with their highly efficient hunting style presenting a threat to many native species.

At present Rambo is posing a threat to a number of threatened species such as the  Black-striped Wallaby, and the endemic Pilliga Mouse. He is also delaying the return of locally extinct species.

Learn more about Red Foxes here – Red Fox Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on their website – Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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