Jackal, Black-backed

Canis mesomelas

Black-backed jackal
A medium sized dog which can make its home almost anywhere with the exception of thick forests. They are effective scavengers and will nip in to steal meat from lions and hyenas. They can detect a carcass from over a kilometre away by smell. However, they’re not just scavengers, they are excellent predators of rodents, hares, antelopes, birds, reptiles and invertebrates.

Conservation status : Least concern
Shoulder height : 38 cm
Weight : Males 8.5 kg, Females 6.5 kg
Life span : 10 years
Gestation : 2 months
Young : 1 to 6

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Black-backed jackals are fast enough to nip in and steal food from feeding lions and hyenas but they will not try it with cheetahs who are too quick for them.

Black-backed jackal litters have more chance of surviving if its parents are helped with baby sitting and food provision by yearlings from the previous litter.

The ancient Egyptian god Anubis who was responsible for guiding the dead to the judges and for overseeing the embalmment was depicted as having the head of a jackal.

Black-backed jackals are quick learners and will transfer their knowledge to others so that they too can avoid danger such as poison and traps.

The black-backed jackal will use its excellent hearing to locate rodents which it catches with a high-arching pounce.

For insulation on cold nights the black-backed jackal has been known to sleep on impala middens (dung piles) and elephant dung.

The black-backed jackal will defecate on raised objects when scent marking so that it appears larger than it actually is to any intruders.

Black-backed jackals at the age of three years old will pair for life. They will work together to hold a territory with males defending against males and females against females.