Black-Backed Jackal (70)
|Black-Backed Jackal / Canis mesomelas|
In all the years that we visited the Kruger National Park as part of our annual holiday, I have never had the opportunity to see as many jackals than I have seen in the Addo Elephant National Park in the 3 days that we where there. Capturing them was such a pleasure and an additional bonus the fact that the environment was lush, green and filled with an abundance of beautiful flowers in all colours and sizes. A few months before our visit the most of the Cape Province had good rains.
The black-backed jackal is marginally smaller than the side-striped jackal. The Afrikaans name rooijakkals (red jackal) is very descriptive, particularly in winter, as the animals develop a rich reddish colour to their flanks and sides, usually darker on their flanks and on top of the muzzle. Males attain a height of 400mm at the shoulder, and weighs up to 10kg. The erect and pointed ears are a prominent feature. The fur consists of long, dark hair on top of the neck and back.
The black-backed jackal is a problem animal which is relentlessly hunted by farmers and 'problem animal hunting units' with packs of dogs. Unfortunately these dogs also attack the inoffensive side-striped jackal, the bat-eared fox and the aardwolf, tearing them to pieces. It is not difficult to understand the farmer's attitude when confronted with their stock depredation, but it may be short-sighted to indiscriminately destroy these animals as they have a distinct place in keeping a balance in nature. Their indiscriminate destruction has, in some places, resulted in the proliferation of their small prey such as the mongoose, which in turn feeds upon the eggs of the burrow-nesting South African shelduck. Consequently this is seriously diminishing the occurrence of this attractive arid-country bird.
They have wide habitat tolerance, favouring drier bushveld and savannah grassland types, but not forests. Mainly diurnal, they may also be active at night. Their preferred shelters are disused antbear holes and crevices in piles of boulders, favouring these more substantial places to simple thick underbrush. Predators are mainly lion, leopard and large birds of prey. They will defend themselves savagely when attacked.
Socially monogamous, a pair of jackals bond for life. The young initially use their parent's territory to gain survival experience and also to assist in raising more recent litters. Later in life they undertake wide ranging excursions until they find their own mates and territories. Black-backed jackals have a well-developed communication system. Vixens give birth to up to 10, usually 4-6, altricial pups using antbear burrows and other holes, after a gestation period of ±64 days.
They actively hunt smaller prey such as small antelope and the very young of larger antelope as well as hares, mongooses, springhaas and a large variety of rodents. They will take young sheep and goats, a wide variety of snakes, lizards, insects (mainly crickets), beetles and grasshoppers, as well as other invertebrates such as spiders and scorpions. Vegetable matter is also eaten. They are renowned carrion scavengers.
Taken from: Southern Africa's Mammals, a Field Guide by Robin Frandsen.
I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.