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For world wildlife Wednesday we head back to Bolivia for a closer look at this character, the Culpeo, Lycalopex culpaeus, also known as the Andean fox or wolf. True to the characterisation of foxes as wily, this one knew a tourist vehicle when it saw it and, though its normal diet would include rabbits, birds, rodents and whatever other small beasties it could hunt down, this fox obviously equated tourists with food. And it was not disappointed. On our Red Planet Expedition, in 4-wheel-drive vehicles deep in the remote regions of the Bolivian Altiplano, we carried food with us and our drivers prepared our lunches each day. El culpeo dined on chicken bones as we drove slowly off to our next destination.


The Andean fox can be found in many South American countries, ranging from parts of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia in the north down to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in the south, though is mostly found on the western side of the mighty Andes mountain range. Just as today’s domesticated dogs all have a common ancestor in the wild wolf, there was once a breed of domesticated dog (the Fuegian dog) that was derived from this fox, but it became extinct some time in the late 19th or early 20th century.