Indian Desert Fox
- April 25, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Indian Desert Fox
Context- Prosopis juliflora, a salt-tolerant and fruit-bearing tree, has flourished in the Banni grasslands of Gujarat.
The encroachment by this woody invasive plant is, however, resulting in a loss of habitat and resources for the desert fox.
The Desert Fox:
- The desert fox is a specialist in open dry grasslands and deserts.
- The Indian desert fox (Vulpes vulpespusilla) is one among three subspecies of red fox found in India.
- The other two subspecies are the Kashmir fox and the Tibetan red fox.
- Its habitat includes dunes, saline scrub grasslands and semi-arid scrub savannah.
- It shelters in burrows dug in the ground near the vegetation cover of reeds and bushes.
- Gerbils, other rodents and spiny-tailed lizards are its main prey.
- This subspecies has been given the highest legal protection in India (Schedule I) under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- But despite its legal status, it is poached for its fur and meat.
- Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and the introduction of invasive plant species, like the Prosopis juliflora in their habitats have also had an impact on the desert fox numbers.
- Prosopis juliflora is a shrub or small tree in the family Fabaceae, a kind of mesquite.
- It is native to Mexico,South America and the Caribbean.
- It has become established as an invasive weed in Africa, Asia, Australia and elsewhere.
- It is a contributing factor to continuing transmission of malaria, especially during dry periods when sugar sources from native plants are largely unavailable to mosquitoes.
- Prosopis juliflora is a resilient species and can withstand extremely harsh weather and soil conditions.
- Its extensive root system enables it to tap groundwater easily, so it remains green even in peak summer.
- Banni is the largest grassland of Asia situated near the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
- It is spread over 2,618 kilometres and accounts for almost 45% of the pastures in Gujarat.
- Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are mixed side by side in Banni.
- Vegetation in Banni is sparse and highly dependent on rainfall.
- Banni grasslands, traditionally, were managed following a system of rotational grazing.
- Banni is dominated by low-growing plants, forbs and graminoids, many of which are halophiles (salt tolerant), as well as scattered tree cover and scrub.
- The area is rich in flora and fauna, with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
- Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified this grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India and a possible reintroduction site for the species.
- Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community inhabiting Banni.