Base camp Neighbors

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I saw them for the first time as I was moving into my base camp. Very excited, I focused my binocular and observed them for some time. They seemed to be wondering around; not searching for anything specific. Soon they were gone and I was back setting up my camp which was to be home for the next five months. Little I knew that this red fox couple were to be my neighbours for this time.

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That day onwards I kept seeing them around the camp; playing, sleeping or just strolling around. Although they spent most of their time together, or so it seemed, I never saw them eat together. One day a donkey died in the village, the carcass was left for the vultures and foxes. The carcass seemed enough for all the Himalayan griffons and the fox couple for at least a couple of days. But even then not for a minute were they together at what seemed like a food bonanza. A couple of times I did see them looking for voles together but I am not sure if they shared what they caught.

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They must have been long time residents of this locality as all the blue sheep were very familiar with their ways. Often they walked right through the middle of the blue sheep herd and the sheep never raised a brow. When the fox and the sheep met eye to eye it seemed like a regular “Howdy partner” greeting.

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Then one day I heard a ruckus outside my camp and I came out to find four foxes in the middle of what seemed like a fight unto death. I could recognize my neighbours as the newcomers had a much lighter coat. Soon it was clear that the local residents had the visitors on the run. The fight lasted over ten minutes and I assumed that it was over territory defence. I was surprised to find the couple defending their territory together when they wouldn’t even share their food.

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My five months were soon over and I had to leave. It was the month of April and very soon their pups were to arrive but alas I could not wait to see them raise their young.

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For those interested in science: The degree of Polygamy in the red fox decreases with reduced food availability. Along the coast of UK red fox are know to be monogamous during the El Nino years when the sea birds failed to nest (food scarcity). Spiti is likely to be one of the low resource availability areas and thus the red fox here seem to be monogamous.

6 thoughts on “Base camp Neighbors

  1. Nice post and wonderful pictures!
    Would it possible to know what you were studying there for 5 months? Just asking out of curiosity…:)

  2. @ Yashada: Oh I was studying the winter foraging behaviour of the blue sheep (Psuedois nayaur)

    1. hey! how i envy you. had planned to study foraging behavior of red foxes on the plateau for my dissertation this year. that didnt work out 🙁
      great blog and cool pics :).

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