BLACK-BACKED JACKAL FACT FILE

by Wildlife South Africa


BLACK-BACKED JACKAL
Latin Name: Canis mesomelas
Afrikaans: Rooijakkals
 
Distribution in South Africa
 
Black-backed Jackal are distributed throughout South Africa
 
Habitat
 
Black- backed Jackals occur in most habitats from desert to mountains to coastal areas. They prefer drier areas and tend to avoid marshy areas and wetlands.
 
 
Habits
 
They live in pairs that form long term bonds and establish territories, but more often than not scavenge and hunt alone. They are extremely cunning and very adaptable.
 
Day or night
 
Although they are at times also active during the day, they usually rest up in holes dug by other species such as ant bears (aardvark), as well as in other shelters like rock crevices, under bushes etc. Black-backed Jackals are mostly active at night and are often seen at dusk and dawn. In protected areas and reserves they are also active on cool overcast days, but in areas where they are persecuted by man they tend to be shy and hide away.
 
Difference between male and female
 
Males are larger than females.
 
Mass
 
Male: 6 to 11 kg. 
Female: 5 to 10 kg
 
Lifespan
 
About 12 years
 
Breeding
 
Mating takes place during the winter months. The average litter are between 1 and 6, but sometimes (although very seldom) up to 9 or 10 cubs, are born from July to November depending on the region, area and rains.
 
Gestation
 
About 2 months
 
Diet - Food and water
 
They are hunters and scavengers with a very acute sense of smell. Their diet consists of a wide range of food including small antelope, hares, reptiles, rodents, insects, birds and eggs. Some types of wild fruit and berries (The Jackal berry tree is named after them) that have fallen to the ground are also eaten. Newborn calves of cattle, sheep (lambs) and young goats are often killed by them as well as chickens. They also scavenge for carrion. Because of their adaptability, Black-back Jackals are not really water dependent, but will drink water on a regular basis if available.
 
Enemies
 
Lions, Leopards, Hyena, Cheetah and other Jackal will often kill their cubs if found. Large eagles also sometimes take young jackals and pythons are also a danger to jackals. Humans are most probably their greatest enemy.
 
Status
 
They still occur in large numbers throughout South Africa. In farming areas they are considered as pests and many are killed daily. However they are safe from persecution in wildlife and nature reserves, as well as in National Parks.
 
Interesting facts
 
The haunting call of the Black–backed Jackal is part of the wonderful array of sounds to be heard in the African bush at night and is one of the typical night sounds of wilderness areas.
 
Due to stock losses (chicken, lamb and small goats), many farmers have no love at all for this animal and in some areas they have eradicated them with poison, gin traps and by hunting them, especially with dogs.
 
References & Sources:
 
The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion,
Revised by D Skinner & Christian T Chimumba
Cambridge University Press 2005
 
Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
Chris & Tilde Stuart
Struik Publishers
Third edition 2003
 
The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa
Burger Cillié
Briza Publications
2004
 
Maberly's Mammals of Southern Africa - A popular Field Guide
A revision by Richard Goss of Charles Astley Maberly's - The Game Animals of Southern Africa
Delta Books (Pty) Ltd
1986
 
Research:
Johan van der Walt