In common folklore, the fox is often considered to be the cleverest creature of the animal kingdom, as well as the most mischievous. The world is their playground as they contentedly trot through forests and fields, their sharp ears and quick eyes making them ready to dart after any adventure which comes their way, even when that adventure comes in the form of an old abandoned conveyor belt.
This is what British photographer, Duncan Usher, discovered when he caught an unexpected moment on camera after spending weeks observing a family of foxes living beneath a huge conveyor belt at a deserted gravel quarry in the German countryside near Bursfelde. He had watched the mother return to the site each morning with a fresh catch of mice for the hungry cubs hidden below. After their breakfast, the pups came squinting and scurrying out of the dark and into the sunshine, rested and ready for their daily recreation.
Catching the perfect slide
The conveyor belt was not merely used for shelter, but also became the playground where the kits would play, running to the top of the conveyor and then chasing one another back down, in what Usher described as a frisky game of “Catch me if you can!”
It was only when three of the foxes had frolicked away that the fourth climbed back to the top and sat down for a full ride, his two hind legs sticking straight into the air as the cock-eared cub slowly slid down the belt, unable to hide his silly grin.
By now, Usher was undercover and had hastily set up his tripod and camera to catch the action. It was a playful performance he would not soon forget as the photographer watched the fox scurry back to the top for a second ride down the makeshift slide.
The most practical playground
We are always searching for stories from around the world of the latest cutting edge uses of conveyor belts, but from packaging to production, perhaps no human being has ever seen the same value in a conveyor belt as one little fox discovered in simply being the perfect place to play.