Species profile

Name: jackals are medium-sized members of the dog family. There are three distinct species: black-backed (Lupulella mesomelas), side-striped (Lupulella adusta), and golden jackal (Canis aureus).

Appearance: black-backed and side-striped jackals are fox-like animals, with slender bodies, long legs, and large ears. Black-backed are reddish-brown with a black stripe running down their backs, while side-striped jackals are usually grey. Golden jackals are more similar to wolves and coyotes and are larger with a golden, yellow coat.

Size: black-backed jackals are the smallest species, measuring 70 to 80 cm long and weighing 6 to 13 kg, side-striped and golden jackals are similar in size but slightly larger.

Diet: jackals are opportunistic omnivores that are perfectly adapted for hunting small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Their long legs and large feet make them well-suited for long-distance running to chase prey, and are capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h for long periods of time.

Did you know: jackals have a long relationship with humans and have played a part in our myths and stories for thousands of years. They are often depicted as clever sorcerers or being particularly wily and wise. Jackals (probably referring to the golden species) are mentioned fourteen times in the Bible – often as a literary device to illustrate desolation, loneliness, or abandonment. This may be due to their habit of living in the ruins of former cities and other areas abandoned by humans.

Location: jackals have a preference for open areas with limited vegetation although can be found in deserts, farmlands, savannas, and alpine areas. Black-backed jackals are native to eastern and southern Africa, side-striped central and southern Africa, and golden jackals south-east Europe and Asia.

Where to see jackals

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see jackals in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
South Africa
very high
very good
Nairobi National Park
very good

Photo credit: NamibianHeart under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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