Rare fox spotted in Al Ain for first time in almost 20 years

The Blanford’s fox was caught on camera roaming the rocky cliff face of Jebel Hafeet earlier this month

A species of fox native to the Middle East has been recorded on Jebel Hafeet for the first time in 17 years.

The Blanford's fox, also known by its scientific name Vulpes cana, was caught on camera roaming the rocky cliff face of the Al Ain mountain earlier this month.

Classified as of “least concern” by conservationists, the small species of fox, which grows to a length of between 40 and 50 centimetres and weighs only 3 to 4 kilograms, is found in mountainous areas where it builds its dens in large rock piles.

Nocturnal, it becomes active shortly after dark and is one of the few species of fox known to be able to scale steep slopes with ease.

“This mountain specialist species was recorded on the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi’s camera traps on Jebel Hafeet,” said an EAD tweet.

“They are well suited to climbing and jumping over rocks and cliff faces."

Blanford’s foxes are also found in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Israel, Oman and Saudi Arabia. But experts think they may also exist in Eritrea, Sudan and Yemen.

The species is named after William Thomas Blanford, an English naturalist who first described the fox, which has large ears to help it dissipate heat, in 1877.

It is just one of a number of threatened animals in the UAE that are believed to be making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts.

Blanford's fox, with its large ears to radiate heat, is nocturnal and lives in desert cliffs of the Mid-East, Ein Gedi Reserve, Israel. | Location: En Gedi Nature Park, Israel. Getty Images

The EAD uses more than 35 camera traps to monitor ecologically sensitive habitats and some newly formed protected areas.

This was how the footage of the Arabian caracal, which was spotted for the first time in Abu Dhabi in 35 years, was captured in Jebel Hafeet National Park in Al Ain last month.