The nimble footed scavenger often seen in the background of a kill. The jackal, one of natures resources allocated the job of cleaning up after the kill but not limited to scavenging. They are in fact omnivores are not fussy eaters surprisingly including plants, berries and even grass. On the carnivorous side they will eat birds, rodents, rabbits, other small mammals and insects.
They are agile hunters, stalking their prey and if its a bird, jumping high after the bird that’s taking off, often plucking it out of the air.
There are three varieties of jackal, the black backed jackal (found on the African Savannah), the golden jackal (endemic to South East Europe and South West Asia) and the side striped jackal (found in Central and East Africa, often in wooded areas).
In Russia, Sulimov dogs have been bred by cross breeding the golden jackal and are in service with Aeroflot airlines for scent detection.
Jackals normally hunt alone or in pairs but sometimes in larger groups where they may take down a small antelope or scavenge a carcass. They are also known to follow predators and yapping as they go, annoying the predator such as a leopard which may be trying to find some prey.
They have large ears and excellent hearing, enabling them to hunt in grass, listening for the prey and then by the nature of those long legs, making a high jump to come down onto the prey in a pounce thereby landing on top of the luckless prey still hidden from view. A short scuffle and usually the jackal emerges with a rat or mouse in its mouth. Jackals are inclined to bite their prey behind the head or to shake it vigorously, stunning the creature before taking a better grip or administering the death bite with those long curved canines.
In farming communities jackals are often regarded as a pest due to their habit of attacking livestock such as sheep and goats. they have a further negative side being significant vectors of rabies which seems to occur in 4 to 8 year cycles.
Jackals are monogamous, pairing for life. Following a gestation period of 2 months, the litter could be between 1 and 6 pups. They are initially suckled and have a milk only diet, thereafter they will be introduced to regurgitated food which can continue for up to 3 months. Pups are likely to fall victim to predation in the first 14 weeks and potential predators are hyenas and ratels. Adults are predated on by leopards and Wild dogs. Pups start hunting at around 6 months old and mature at 12 months but normally wont breed until the following year.