An unlikely encounter

It had been a long day out on the road: from the first touch of colour in the morning to the slow darkening of the sky now. As the jeep came to a halt, I took a shot of the glow in the sky (photo below). My camera flashed an indicator and shut itself down; the battery had run out. It gets pretty dark in the middle of the desert, but we climbed out of the jeep we’d sat in all day. It had been a good day of bird watching, but it was time to stretch our legs a little and give our eyes a rest.

I think it was the driver who first noticed the furtive movement around our vehicle. Someone switched on a torch, and caught a desert fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla) in the center of the beam. This one was not true to its name; it was not pusillanimous, cowardly, timorous, or fearful. It looked towards the light and then continued snuffling around the car. It seemed completely at ease around humans. Had people been feeding it, or is this one extreme of its natural range of behaviour? I searched later and found at least one more description (with better photos) of this behaviour in the Little Rann of Kutch. We went back the next day to look for this Vulpes Audacious, but found only empty foxholes.