Area: Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Sossusvlei
The bat-eared fox has been at the forefront of a new project in the Kulala Wilderness Reserve – the Small Carnivore Project. The area had previously been used for goat farming and precious little indigenous wildlife remained, but after the removal of fences and exotic species, the animals slowly began to return. The Project began in 2000, studying habitat, ecology, breeding and feeding habits of the bat-eared fox, eventually expanding to include other small mammals such as the elusive aardwolf. Using these species, the research students intend to uncover their distribution patterns in relation to possible threats, including human activities.
Bat-eared fox were assessed on the Reserve as indicator species for land rehabilitation. Bat-eared fox are often the first of the small carnivores to enter an area that has previously been disturbed. The project also focuses on the education of farmers and communities about the differences between an aardwolf (an insectivorous small carnivore) and a hyaena. Farmers often kill aardwolves, mistakenly regarding them as threats to their livestock. It is our hope that education will be a way forward in the conservation of this rare small carnivore.