Captive fennec foxes in Tunisia

Wildlife photogapher Bruno D’Amicis reveals how tourists can help fennec foxes. 

Fennec fox photo story, April 2014 issue, BBC Wildlife Magazine.

In the April 2014 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine wildlife photographer Bruno D’Amicis showed how political turmoil has increased fennec fox trade. 

The photo story in the magazine inspired Carole Bowers to write this letter: 

While any article concerning animal cruelty upsets me, the one about fennec foxes was particularly wrenching. I am travelling to Tunisia next month and was wondering if there was anything I could do to stop the practice of taking them out of their natural habitat?

Carole Bowers

Bruno D’Amicis replied with this advice: 

The fennec story I wanted to expose is, unfortunately, just one among many and represents an example of what we do to animals.

While the unacceptable practice is widely diffused and an old and persistent tradition among desert people in Northern Africa, I think we should not point the finger at Tunisian people for being particularly cruel towards wildlife.

In Europe, we have a long history of wildlife exploitation and extermination. 

However, I do firmly believe that foreign tourists can play an important role in addressing this specific issue.

First of all, I would invite tourists travelling to the desert not to show any support for wildlife exploitation. This includes refusing to pose or pay for pictures with captive animals; boycotting tour operators that include these ‘entertainments’ in their programmes and by clearly stating your disapproval. 

Tunisia is a country that relies heavily on tourism and is extremely sensitive to the behaviour of tourists.

Wildlife exploitation in Africa is often due to lack of education and difficult socio-economic conditions. For this reason I wouldn’t report any circumstances to the police, apart from situations where a group of people do regularly and consistently exploit wildlife in a commercial way.

More often than not such sad situations are related to poor individuals who seek an extra form of income and don’t understand the harm they create. 

Many thanks for your query. I wish you a great time in Tunisia; enjoying its desert, its marvellous people and its nature.

Coming across the tiny tracks of a fennec fox that has been walking on the dunes should be more of a thrill than looking at a sad specimen kept on a leash at the entrance of a souvenir shop. 

Bruno D’Amicis

Do you have a question about a topic we have featured in the magazine? We’d love to hear from you. Visit our Forum to get in touch. 

Find out more about the increased fennec fox trade in the April 2014 issue. 

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