Jackal (Canis mesomelas)


Family:                    Canidae.

Status:                     No special status.

Size:                        2 to 3 feet in length, weight 15 to 30 lbs.

Diet:                        Omnivore.

Characteristics:        Sociable.

Area:                       Africa.

Offspring:                Litter of 2 to 6.



·       They’re also known as silver-backed jackals or saddle-backed jackals.

·       Jackals and coyotes are among the few mammals to have a long-term mate.

·       Jackals have excellent vision and hearing.

·       Males are slightly larger and are more vibrantly coloured.



The black-backed jackal has red fur, with a large, distinctive black and silver patch running down the length of its back. Their faces are small and fox-like, with large ears. They are social animals and will join up with other jackals for the purpose of hunting large prey. Jackals feed on insects, large or small mammals, fruit and vegetation. Although they’re good hunters, they’re also avid scavengers and like to feast on the remains of a larger predator’s hunt. The usual gait of a jackal is a trot; if moving more slowly, he’s most likely hunting. Jackals are extremely wary of larger predators such as humans and will turn and run rather than confront aggressively. Jackals living near cities or towns tend to be mostly nocturnal, going out at night to search for food, and will scavenge through trash for food. In less inhabited areas they’re active both by night and day. Jackals are usually seen in pairs—they mate for life and when separated will call out to each other. They hunt together and equally mark their territories with scent glands and urine. When they have offspring, they both care for the pups. Couples also groom each other.



Black-backed jackals live in two discrete areas of Africa. The southernmost population ranges over South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The other population can be found in the east—Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The areas are separated by approximately 900 km of arid desert. Jackals are protected in areas such as Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve in South Africa. Jackals live in open woodland and grassland—they’re not often found in forested areas. Each couple stakes out a territory of a square mile (2.2 km sq) and vigorously defends it against intruders.



Mating occurs during the summer, and two months later, the female gives birth in an abandoned burrow dug by another animal. During the puppies’ first three weeks, the mother stays with them constantly, while the father brings her food and guards the den. The pups nurse up to five times per day at first and at ten days of age, their eyes, which are blue at first but gradually darken, open. One or more offspring from last year’s litter will help the mother with the pups, feeding them and making sure they don’t wander into danger. By the time they’re three weeks old, the pups begin to follow their parents out of the den. At three months, they’re weaned and at six months, they’re capable hunters. By the time they’re eight to ten months, some of the pups may head off to be on their own. The lifespan of a jackal is 10 to 16 years in captivity.