Sneaky red fox on a photo-expedition in Western Iberia

December 22, 2016

In 2014, the wildlife monitoring team in the Western Iberia rewilding area placed a wildlife camera in the Faia Brava nature reserve, next to a carcass of a Maronesa cow that died naturally. The intention was to monitor the use of the carcass by scavengers and other animals. One day, the camera mysteriously disappeared from the location and was recently found intact but without power. The images discovered on the memory card revealed what really happened.

Photo from the wildlife camera on the day that it misteryiously disappeared from its location in Faia Brava nature reserve, Western Iberia rewilding area, Portugal.
Photo from the wildlife camera on the day that it mysteriously disappeared from its location in Faia Brava nature reserve, Western Iberia rewilding area, Portugal.

The wildlife camera in question disappeared from the location only a few days after Eduardo Realinho from ATN, the local partner organisation in Portugal, set it up in the Côa Valley. It was considered stolen, and the story was over and forgotten. He was very excited when he realised that the camera recently found during fieldwork was the one thought to be stolen. It was intact and after putting in new batteries, it was still perfectly working. The only recorded damage was on the batteries that had chew marks of small teeth.

Griffon vulture feeding off the carcass, Western Iberia rewilding area, Portugal.
Griffon vulture feeding off the carcass, Western Iberia rewilding area, Portugal.

The surprise was even bigger when he reviewed the content of the memory card. Since 2014, ATN investigates the importance of dead animals in the reserve and how this benefits wildlife species, scavenging on them. Restoring the ‘Circle of Life’ – the entire food chains in the ecosystem of Western Iberia – is an important component of the rewilding work. The first images showed scavengers and wild boars feeding of the carcass and then a very nice portrait of a red fox. The fox returned to the location for several days and was very interested in the camera, in fact much more than in the carcass.

The fox finally decided that it would be nice to play around and take photos of the surrounding area so it took the camera. During the next days and nights, the sneaky fox made photos of various motives such as planes, clouds, sunset, dawn, the wind and a few auto portraits. Among these, it showed a particular interest in bird watching and bird photography, capturing many images of vultures. It even managed to capture an Egyptian vulture in flight. The fun was so great that it only ended a few months after the hairy photographer took the batteries out with its teeth.

In the gallery below, look at the artistic photos taken by the Sneaky Fox, a wild wildlife photographer.

The camera was not the only theft. In August, most likely the same fox stole one of the hiking shoes of the Managing Director of Rewilding Europe during a night out camping. Despite a good search, the shoe was never found…

If you like to support our wildlife monitoring work, you can visit our donation page at “Cameras: Eyes in the wild” – as you could read here this work is not without risk!

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