Canis aureus - Jackal


GOLDEN JACKAL


Note 2

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom

:

Animalia

Phylum

:

Chordata

Subphylum

:

Vertebrata

Class

:

Mammalia

Order

:

Carnivora

Suborder

:

Caniformia

Family

:

Canidae

Kind

:

Canis

Species

:

Canis aureus

Common name

: golden jackal

GENERAL DATA

  • Body length : 70 - 85 cm (plus 25 cm tail)
  • Height at the withers (1): 40 cm
  • Weight: 7-15 kg
  • Lifespan: 8-9 years in the wild but up to 16 years in captivity
  • Sexual maturity: 11 months

HABITAT AND GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION

The golden jackal, scientific name Canis aureus of the Canidae family, it is a carnivore that we find in the central-northern areas of Africa; in the south-east of Europe (in the Balkans, Hungary, Ukraine, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and north-east Italy) and in Asia in the south (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar , Thailand and Indochina).

Thanks to the fact that it is an omnivorous animal and that it can tolerate dry environments without problems, the golden jackal lives in a great variety of habitats ranging from desert, evergreen forests, semi-arid areas, grasslands, savannahs, to rural and agricultural areas including semi-urban environments. It has been found from sea level up to 2000m altitude.

CHARACTER, BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL LIFE

The golden jackal basically lives in pairs, a male to a female. Often this group is also joined by the children of the couple called "helpers" as they help the parents in the breeding of the next litter and are subordinate in all respects to the parents. It has been observed that there is however a high sense of family as the whole group cooperates in the care of the female and the young, providing food and protection.

Each group has its own territory which is about 3 sq km which is carefully marked with urine by both the male and the female. Contrary to what happens in most species, in the case of the golden jackal it is the female who controls the male, keeping him away from any other females that could "distract" him.

The life of the group happens following the same rhythms: they eat and sleep together doing the same things at the same time, including hunting.

It is a hunter animal even if it does not attack large animals. The hunting of the big cats follows and when, for example, a lion kills a prey, a state of excitement takes over and screams, thus attracting other jackals. When the lion leaves part of the carcass because it is full, then the jackals will eat what is left. As other animals arrive, they take a piece of meat and bury it in a makeshift hole to eat it later at a leisurely pace.

They are animals that live in burrows that can be in the ground (they can also use burrows found empty by other animals) or in rocks. They are mainly nocturnal animals, especially in the areas most frequented by man.

As a result of urbanization, it lives more and more frequently close to cities. In India, where animals that have died for religious beliefs are not eaten, it is not uncommon to see him devouring an abandoned carcass.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

It looks a lot like a dog, it has a rather shaggy fur of a golden yellow color with some brown tips even if the color can become more or less intense depending on the season and the area where it lives.

COMMUNICATION

Each species has its own specific repertoire for communicating. The golden jackal is no exception and the screams can be modulated in vario. For example, if two jackals howl together it means that there is a bond between them.

Physical contact is also important: they often scratch each other to strengthen the bond of the group or couple.

EATING HABITS

The golden jackal eats 54% food of animal origin and the rest food of plant origin: young gazelles, rodents, hares, fallen birds and their eggs, reptiles, frogs, fish, insects and fruit and when it happens they do not disdain carrion. Very often they wait patiently for another animal to finish its meal in order to feed on the remains.

REPRODUCTION AND GROWTH OF THE SMALL

There is no precise period in which mating and subsequent births take place. Let's say that they most frequently occur in the months of January-February in Africa and April-May in Europe.

The golden jackals are strictly monogamous animals and contrary to what one might think they have a high sense of family in fact generally there are groups of golden jackals formed by the basic couple and by one or two adults called "helpers" who are nothing but the children of the couple who remain with their parents, despite having reached sexual maturity, to help them take care of the next litter.

The gestation lasts about 63 days at the end of which 1 to 9 puppies will be born (the average is 2-4) that will each weigh 200-250 gr. The little ones come into the world in special dens within the territory of the parents and are born with closed eyes which will be opened only after ten days.

The young are suckled by their mother for about 2 months and then weaned. At first they start eating family members regurgitation and only after three months will they start eating solid food. Often the puppies are looked after by the helpers allowing the parents to go hunting and feed.

The young reach sexual maturity around eleven months.

STATE OF THE POPULATION

The golden jackal in the IUNC Red list is classified as a low-risk animal, LEAST CONCERN (LC).

The only certain estimate of its population is 80,000 specimens in the Indian sub-continent while there are no estimates for the populations of the African and European continent.

Although it is not in imminent danger of extinction, it is certain that its population is in constant decline. Agriculture and breeding that were activities that favored the life of the golden jackal are constantly decreasing replaced by industrialization and intensive farming as are more and more areas that are being urbanized.

So let's say that the only threat is the advancing "civilization".

The species is included in Appendix II of CITES in India (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, known simply as the "Washington Convention") and each state has national laws for its protection and protection.

SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ECOSYSTEM IMPORTANCE

The golden jackal is generally not a well-regarded animal as it invades and destroys the cultivated fields of corn, sugar cane and watermelon. In addition, he does not hesitate to attack flocks of sheep. In any case it must be said that it plays an important role in the ecosystem by providing the role of scavenger, eating garbage and carrion around the cities. They also keep the rodent and hare and rabbit populations under control.

CURIOSITY'

Golden jackals are animals that can be tamed as a pet dog and kept indoors. The only difference with an ordinary dog ​​is that they remain more shy and do not let strangers approach them.

In the Middle East it is a highly respected animal and enjoys a good reputation, the same as the fox in Europe.

In ancient Egypt it was a highly revered animal. The god Anubis, lord of the underworld, was now depicted with the face of a jackal and the body of a man (photo above right), now as a jackal.

Note
  1. withers: region of the body of the quadrupeds between the upper edge of the neck and the back and above the shoulders, in practice the highest part of the body (excluding the head);
  2. image not subject to copyright.

Canis aureus

"He can be called the most daring, the most importunate of all dogs."

The golden jackal (Canis aureus Linnaeus, 1758) is a medium-sized lupine canid widespread in south-eastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East and south-eastern Asia. It is classified by the IUCN among the least risk species, given that it has a very large range where it finds food and shelter in abundance. [3] It is a social species that lives in nuclear families consisting of couples accompanied by their offspring. It is a very adaptable animal, capable of exploiting numerous food sources, from fruits and insects to small ungulates. [4] Since 2005, MSW [5] has recognized 13 subspecies, but some genetic studies conducted in 2015 have shown that six of the supposed subspecies in Africa are instead part of a species in their own right, the Canis lupaster, thus reducing the number of golden jackal subspecies to seven. [6]

Although similar to a small gray wolf, the golden jackal is leaner, with a narrower muzzle, shorter tail, and lighter stride. Its winter coat differs from that of the wolf in its more tawny-reddish shades. [7] Despite its informal name, it is not closely related to the black-backed jackal and the striped jackal, being more related to the gray wolf, the coyote and the caberu. [8] It can produce fertile hybrids with both gray wolves [9] and African ones. [6]

The jackal plays an important role in Middle Eastern and Asian folklore and literature, where he is often depicted as a deceiver, analogous to the fox and coyote in European and North American fairy tales.


Golden jackal

Binomial name: Canis aureus, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The golden jackal (Canis aureus), also known as the common jackal, Asiatic jackal or reed wolf is a canid native to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and southeast Asia. It is classified by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to its widespread range in areas with optimum food and shelter. It is a social species, whose basic social unit consists of a breeding pair, followed by its offspring. The golden jackal is highly adaptable, being able to exploit many foodstuffs, from fruit and insects to small ungulates. , 13 subspecies were recognized but C. l. lupaster has since been recognized as a subspecies of gray wolf.

Although similar to a small gray wolf, the golden jackal is distinguished by a lighter tread, a more slender build, a sharper muzzle and a shorter tail. Its winter fur also differs from the wolf's by its more fulvous-reddish color. Despite its name, the golden jackal is not closely related to black-backed and side-striped jackals, being instead more closely related to the gray wolf, coyote, and Ethiopian wolf. It is capable of producing fertile hybrids with wolves, with hybrid populations having been discovered in Senegal and Bulgaria.

The golden jackal features prominently in African, Middle-Eastern and Asian folklore and literature, where it is often portrayed as a trickster analogous to the fox and coyote in European and North American tales, respectively.

Local and indigenous names
Indigenous names for Canis aureus
Linguistic group or areaIndigenous name
Albanian Cakalli
Amharic ተረ ቀበሮ (tera kebero)
Arabic ابن آوى (Ibn awee), ذئب (deeb), أبو سليما (abu soliman), حسیني (husseini), واوي (wawi)
Balochi Tulag
Bhotia Amu, Nao-han
Bulgarian Златист чакал (zlatist chakal)
Burmese Myae-khawae, Toung-khwe, Rhwea
Chin Quay-at
Czech Šakal obecný
Friulian Coiòte
Fula Sundu
German Goldschakal, Rohrwolf
Gondi Nerka
Greek Τσακάλι (tsakali)
Hausa Over there
Hebrew תן (tan)
Hindi Gheedhur, Giddhad
Hungarian Aranysakál, Nádi farkas, Toportyánféreg
Italian Golden jackal
Kannada Nari, Nuree
Kashmiri Gidah, Shial, Shal
Khandeshi Neru-koela
Kurdish Chaghal
Marathi Kolha
Mazanderani شال (shaal)
Nepali / Bengali / Gujarati / Kutchi Shiyal
Persian شغال (shogâl)
Romanian Șakal
Sanskrit Srigala
Shan Mania
Sinhala Nariya, Hiwala
Slovenian Šakal, Mali volk
Somali dawaco / dayo / dawaca
Songhai Nzongo
Swahili (standard), Swahili (Tanzania) Bweha wa mbuga, Bweha dhahabu
Tamil Peria naree, Kulla narie
Telugu Naka
Thai สุนัข จิ้งจอก (sòo-nák jîng-jòk)
Turkish Çakal
Venetian Sciacàl
Vietnamese Chó rừng lông vàng
Wolof Tili

Taxonomy and evolution

The earliest fossil carnivores that can be linked with some certainty to canids are the Eocene Miacids, which lived some 38 to 56 million years ago. The Miacids later diverged into caniforms and feliforms, with the former line leading to such genera as the coyote-sized Mesocyon of the Oligocene (38 to 24 million years ago), the fox-like Leptocyon and the wolf-like Tomarctus which inhabited North America some 10 million years ago. The golden jackal is scantily represented in the fossil record, and its direct ancestor is unknown two previous candidates, Canis kuruksaensis and C. arnensis (from Villafranchian Tajikistan and Italy respectively), were demonstrated to be more closely related to the coyote than the jackal. Jackal-like fossils appear in South Africa up to the Early Pleistocene, though remains identifiable as the golden jackal only appear beginning in the Middle Pleistocene. The absence of jackal fossils in Europe, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, areas where the species currently resides, indicates that the species is a relatively recent arrival. However, its presence in the Balkan peninsula is probably quite ancient, as fossil finds in Croatia indicate that the species has been established in the Dalmatian Coast since the Late Pleistocene or early Holocene. The jackal likely entered the Balkans during the last glacial maximum through a land bridge on the Bosphorus.

The golden jackal is the most typical member of the genus Canis, being of medium size and having no outstanding features. Though less basal than the black-backed and side-striped jackals, it is nonetheless a somewhat less specialized species than the gray wolf, as indicated by its relatively short facial region, weaker tooth row and the more weakly developed projections of the skull. These features are connected to the jackal's diet of small birds, rodents, small vertebrates, insects and carrion. The characteristics of the golden jackal's skull and genetic composition indicate a closer affinity to the gray wolf and coyote than to the black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal and Ethiopian wolf. A recent study found that the Golden Jackal and the ancestor of the wolf / dog diverged 400, 000 years ago, and that since then there had been significant gene flow between the Golden Jackal and the Israeli wolf, as well as the population ancestral to the dog and wolf samples.

In captivity, the golden jackal is capable of hybridizing with the coyote, though such hybrids become infertile at the second generation. In contrast, the golden jackal appears to have unlimited fertility with dogs and wolves. The Sulimov dog (see below) is an example of such a hybrid, as are jackal-wolf hybrids. Although hybridization between golden jackals and gray wolves has never been observed, evidence of such occurrences was discovered through mtDNA analysis on jackals and wolves in Senegal and Bulgaria.

Subspecies

Because of the species' wide distribution, a large number of local races have been described. During the 19th century, the golden jackals of Africa were considered separate species from those in Eurasia, and were named "thoas" or "thous dogs". Although several attempts have been made to synonymise many of the proposed names, the taxonomic position of West African jackals, in particular, is too confused to come to any precise conclusion, as the collected study materials are few. Prior to 1840, six of the ten supposed West African subspecies were named or classed almost entirely because of their fur color.

The species' display of high individual variation, coupled with the scarcity of samples and the lack of physical barriers on the continent preventing gene flow, brings into question the validity of some of these West African forms. The species remains poorly understood from a genetic standpoint while the karyotype of Croatian jackals is similar to that of dogs and wolves (2n = 78 NF = 84), that of Indian jackals differs considerably (NF = 80), leading to the possibility that the golden jackal is in fact an aggregate of poorly defined species.

13 subspecies of golden jackal were recognized. However, the list below excludes Canis aureus lupaster, the so-called "Egyptian jackal", which was demonstrated in 2011 through mtDNA analysis to be in fact a gray wolf. (See further below in the page for subspecies)

Physical description

The golden jackal is very similar to the gray wolf in general appearance, but is distinguished by its smaller size, lighter weight, shorter legs, more elongated torso and shorter tail. The end of the tail just reaches the heel or slightly below it. The head is lighter than the wolf's, with a less-prominent forehead, and the muzzle is narrower and more pointed.

Its skull is similar to the wolf's, but is smaller and less massive, with a lower nasal region and shorter facial region. The projections of the skull are strongly developed, but weaker than the wolf's. Its canine teeth are large and strong, but relatively thinner than the wolf's, and its carnassials are weaker. Occasionally, it develops a horny growth on the skull, which is associated with magical powers in southeastern Asia. This horn usually measures half an inch in length, and is concealed by fur. The iris is light or dark brownish. Females have 4-5 pairs of teats.

The fur's base color is golden, though this varies seasonally from pale creamy yellow to dark tawny. The fur on the back often consists of a mixture of black, brown and white hairs, which sometimes form a dark saddle similar to the black-backed jackal's. Animals from high elevations tend to have buffier coats than their lowland counterparts. The underparts and belly are of a lighter pale ginger to cream color than the back.Individual specimens can usually be distinguished by light markings on the throat and chest which differ individually. The tail is bushy, and has a tan or black tip. Melanists occasionally occur, and were once considered "by no means rare" in Bengal.

Unlike melanistic wolves and coyotes, which historically received their dark pigmentation from interbreeding with domestic dogs, melanism in golden jackals likely stems from an independent mutation, and could be an adaptive trait. An albino specimen was photographed in 2012 in southeastern Iran.

The golden jackal moults twice a year, in spring and autumn. In Transcaucasia and Tajikistan, the spring moult begins in mid-late February, while in winter it starts in mid-March and ends in mid-late May. In healthy specimens, the moult lasts 60–65 days. The spring moult begins on the head and limbs, then extends to the flanks, chest, belly and rump, with the tail coming last. The autumn moult takes place from mid-September onwards. The shedding of the summer fur and the growth of the winter coat is simultaneous. The development of the autumn coat starts with the rump and tail, spreading to the back, flanks, belly, chest, limbs and head, with full winter fur being attained at the end of November.

Social and territorial behaviors

The golden jackal's social organization is extremely flexible, varying according to the availability and distribution of food. The basic social unit is a breeding pair, followed by its current offspring, or offspring from previous litters staying as "helpers". Large groups are rare, and have only been recorded to occur in areas with abundant human waste. Family relationships among golden jackals are comparatively peaceful compared to those of the black-backed jackal although the sexual and territorial behavior of grown pups is suppressed by the breeding pair, they are not actively driven off once they attain adulthood. Golden jackals also lie together and groom each other much more frequently than black-backed jackals.

In the Serengeti, pairs defend permanent territories encompassing 2–4 km², while in Tajikistan, home ranges can have a radius of 12 km. Breeding pairs will vacate their territories only to drink or when lured by a large carcass. During severe winters or brushfires, when food is scarce, golden jackals may travel 40–50 km, sometimes appearing in villages and cultivated areas. The pair patrols and marks its territory in tandem. Both partners and helpers will react aggressively towards intruders, though the greatest aggression is reserved for intruders of the same sex pair members do not assist each other in repelling intruders of the opposite sex.

Reproduction and development

The golden jackal's courtship rituals are remarkably long, lasting 26–28 days, during which the breeding pair remains almost constantly together. In Transcaucasia, estrus begins in early February, and occasionally late January during warm winters. Spermatogenesis in males occurs 10–12 days before the females enter estrus, which lasts for 3–4 days. Females failing to mate during this time will undergo a loss of receptivity which lasts six to eight days.

Females undergoing their first estrus are often pursued by several males, which will quarrel amongst themselves. Prior to mating, the pair patrols and scent marks its territory. Copulation is preceded by the female holding her tail out and angled in such a way that her genitalia are exposed. The two approach each other, whimpering, lifting their tails and bristling their fur, displaying varying intensities of offensive and defensive behavior. The female sniffs and licks the male's genitals, whilst the male nuzzles the female's fur. They may circle each other and fight briefly. The male then proceeds to lick the female's vulva, and repeatedly mounts her without erection or hip thrusting. Actual copulation takes place days later, and continues for about a week. The copulatory tie lasts 20–45 minutes in Eurasia, and roughly four minutes in Africa. Towards the end of estrus, the pair drifts apart, with the female often approaching the male in a comparatively more submissive manner. In anticipation of the role he will take in raising pups, the male regurgitates or surrenders any food he has to the female.

In Transcaucasia, pups are usually born from late March to late April, in northeastern Italy probably in late April, and between December – January in the Serengeti, though they are born at any time of year in Nepal. The number of pups in a single litter varies geographically jackals in Uzbekistan give birth to 2-8 pups, in Bulgaria 4-7, in Michurinsk only 3-5, and in India the average is four. Pups are born with shut eyelids and soft fur, which ranges in color from light gray to dark brown. At the age of one month, their fur is shed and replaced with a new reddish colored pelt with black speckles. Their eyes typically open after 8–11 days, with the ears erecting after 10–13 days. The eruption of adult dentition is completed after five months. The pups have a fast growth rate at the age of two days, they weigh 201–214 g, 560–726 g at one month, and 2700–3250 g at four months.

The length of the nursing period varies in the Caucasus it lasts 50–70 days, while in Tajikistan it lasts up to 90 days. The lactation period ends in mid-July, though in some areas it ends in early August. In Eurasia, the pups begin to eat solid food at the age of 15–20 days, while in Africa they begin after a month. Weaning starts at the age of two months, and ends at four months. At this stage, the pups are semi-independent, venturing up to 50 meters from the den, even sleeping in the open. Their playing behavior becomes increasingly more aggressive, with the pups competing for rank, which is established after six months. The female feeds the pups more frequently than the male or helpers do, though the presence of the latter allows the breeding pair to leave the den and hunt without leaving the litter unprotected. Once the lactation period concludes, the female drives off the pups. Pups born late remain with their mother until early autumn, at which point they leave either singly or in groups of two to four individuals.

Denning and sheltering behaviors

In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, female golden jackals usually give birth in burrows dug with the assistance of males, or they occupy derelict fox or badger dens. The burrow is dug a few days before parturition, with both the male and female taking turns digging. The burrow is located either in thick shrubs, on the slopes of gulleys or on flat surfaces. A golden jackal burrow is a simple structure with a single opening. Its length is about 2 meters, while the nest chamber occurs at a depth of 1.0-1.4 meters. In Dagestan and Azerbaijan, litters are sometimes are located within the hollows of fallen trees, tree roots and under stones on river banks. In Middle Asia, the golden jackal does not dig burrows, but constructs lairs in dense tugai thickets. Jackals in the Vakhsh tugais construct 3-meter-long burrows under tree roots or directly in dense thickets. Jackals in the tugais and cultivated lands of Tajikistan construct lairs in long grass plumes, shrubs and reed openings.

Hunting and feeding behavior

The golden jackal rarely hunts in groups, though packs of 8–12 jackals consisting of more than one family have been observed in the summer periods in Transcaucasia. When hunting alone, the golden jackal will trot around an area, occasionally stopping to sniff and listen. Once prey is located, it will conceal itself, quickly approach, then pounce. When hunting in pairs or packs, jackals run parallel to their prey and overtake it in unison. When hunting aquatic rodents or birds, they will run along both sides of narrow rivers or streams, driving their prey from one jackal to another. The golden jackal rarely catches hares due to them being faster. Gazelle mothers (often working in groups of two or three) are formidable when defending their young against single jackals, which are much more successful in hunting gazelle fawns when working in pairs. A pair of jackals will methodically search for concealed gazelle fawns within herds, tall grass, bushes and other likely hiding places.

Although it is known to kill animals up to three times its own weight, the golden jackal targets mammalian prey much less frequently than the black-backed jackal overall. On capturing large prey, the golden jackal makes no attempt to kill it, instead it rips open the belly and eats the entrails. Small prey is typically killed by shaking, though snakes may be eaten alive from the tail end. The golden jackal often carries away more food than it can consume, and caches the surplus, which is generally recovered within 24 hours. When foraging for insects, the golden jackal turns over dung piles to find dung beetles. During the dry seasons, it excavates dung balls to reach the larvae inside. Grasshoppers and flying termites are caught either by pouncing on them while they are on the ground or are caught in mid-air. It is fiercely intolerant of other scavengers, having been known to dominate vultures on kills - one can hold dozens of vultures at bay by threatening, snapping and lunging at them.

Habitat

The golden jackal is a generalist that adapts to local food abundances, a trait which allows it to occupy a variety of different habitats and exploit a large number of food resources. Its lithe body and long legs allows it to trot for large distances in search of food. It has the ability to forego liquids, and has been observed on islands with no fresh water. Although the most desert-adapted jackal, it can survive in temperatures as low as -25 ° or -35 °, though it is not maximally adapted for living in snowy areas. Its preferred habitats consist of flat shrublands, humid reeded areas and floodplains. Although it generally avoids mountainous forests, it may enter alpine and subalpine areas during dispersal. In Turkey, Caucasus and Transcaucasia, it has been observed at heights of up to 1, 000 AMSL, particularly in areas where the climate forces shrublands into high elevations.

The golden jackal is an omnivorous and opportunistic forager its diet varies according to season and habitat. In Bharatpur, India, over 60% of its diet consists of rodents, birds and fruit, while 80% of its diet consists of rodents, reptiles and fruit in Kanha. In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, the golden jackal primarily hunts hares and mouse-like rodents, as well as pheasants, francolins, ducks, coots, moorhens and passerines.

Vegetable matter eaten by jackals in these areas includes fruits, such as pears, hawthorn, dogwood and the cones of common medlars. It is implicated in the destruction of grapes, watermelons, muskmelons and nuts. Near the Vakhsh River, the jackal's spring diet consists almost exclusively of plant bulbs and the roots of wild sugar cane, while in winter it feeds on the fruit stones of wild stony olives. In the edges of the Karakum Desert, the golden jackal feeds on gerbils, lizards, snakes, fish and muskrats. Karakum jackals also eat the fruits of wild stony olives, mulberry and dried apricots, as well as watermelons, muskmelons, tomatoes and grapes. In Hungary, its most frequent prey animals are common voles and bank voles. Information on the diet of the golden jackal in northeastern Italy is scant, but it certainly preys on small roe deer and hares.

In Dalmatia, mammals (the majority being even-toed ungulates and lagomorphs) made up 50.3% of the golden jackal's diet, fruit seeds (14% each being common fig and common grape vine, while 4.6% are Juniperus oxycedrus) and vegetables 34.1% , insects (16% orthopteras, 12% beetles, and 3% dictyopteras) 29.5%, birds and their eggs 24.8%, artificial food 24%, and branches, leaves, and grass 24%.

In west Africa, it mostly confines itself to small prey, such as hares, rats, ground squirrels and grass cutters. Other prey items include lizards, snakes, and ground-nesting birds, such as francolins and bustards. It also consumes a large amount of insects, including dung beetles, larvae, termites and grasshoppers. It will also kill young gazelles, duikers and warthogs. In East Africa, it consumes invertebrates and fruit, though 60% of its diet consists of rodents, lizards, snakes, birds, hares and Thomson's gazelles.

During the wildebeest calving season, golden jackals will feed almost exclusively on their afterbirth. In the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, less than 20% of its diet comes from scavenging. In Israel, golden jackals have been shown to be significant predators of snakes, including venomous snakes an increase in snakebites occurred during a period of poisoning campaign against golden jackals while a decrease in snakebites occurred once the poisoning ceased.

Enemies and competitors

Golden jackals tend to dominate smaller canid species. In Africa, golden jackals have been observed to kill the pups of black-backed jackals. In Israel, red foxes will avoid close physical proximity with jackals, with studies showing that fox populations decrease where jackals are abundant. Conversely, jackals vacate areas inhabited by wolves, which have been known to approach jackal-calling stations at a quick trotting pace, presumably to chase them off.

The jackal's recent expansion throughout eastern and western Europe has been attributed to historical declines in wolf populations. The present diffusion of the golden jackal in the northern Adriatic hinterland seems to be in rapid expansion in various areas where the wolf is absent or very rare. However, some jackals have been observed to follow and feed alongside wolves without evoking any hostility. In Africa, golden jackals often eat alongside African wild dogs, and will stand their ground if the dogs try to harass them. In South-eastern Asia, golden jackals have been known to hunt alongside dhole packs, and there is one record of a golden jackal pack adopting a male Ethiopian wolf.

In India, lone jackals expelled from their pack have been known to form commensal relationships with tigers. These solitary jackals, known as kol-bahl, will attach themselves to a particular tiger, trailing it at a safe distance to feed on the big cat's kills. A kol-bahl will even alert a tiger to a kill with a loud pheal. Tigers have been known to tolerate these jackals, with one report describing how a jackal confidently walked in and out between three tigers walking together a few feet away from each other.

Jackals will feed alongside spotted hyenas, though they will be chased if they approach too closely. Spotted hyenas will sometimes follow jackals during the gazelle fawning season, as jackals are effective at tracking and catching young animals. Hyenas do not take to eating jackal flesh readily four hyenas were reported to take half an hour in eating one. Overall, the two animals typically ignore each other when no food or young is at stake. Jackals will confront a hyena approaching too closely to their dens by taking turns in biting the hyena's hocks until it retreats. Striped hyenas have been known to prey on golden jackals.

Communication

Golden jackals frequently groom one another, particularly during courtship, during which it can last up to ½ hour. Nibbling of the face and neck is observed during greeting ceremonies. When fighting, the golden jackal slams its opponents with its hips, and bites and shakes the shoulder. The species' postures are typically canine, and it has more facial mobility than the black-backed and side-striped jackals, being able to expose its canine teeth like a dog.

The vocabulary of the golden jackal is similar to that of the domestic dog, though more "plaintive", with seven different sounds having been recorded. The golden jackal's vocalisations include howls, barks, growls, whines and cackles. Different subspecies can be recognized by differences in their howls. One of the most commonly heard sounds is a high, keening wail, of which there are three varieties a long single toned continuous howl, a wail that rises and falls (transcribed as "Ai-yai! Ai-yai!"), And a series of short, staccato howls (transcribed as "Dead Hindoo, where, where, where?"). These howls are used to repel intruders and attract family members. Howling in chorus is thought to reinforce family bonds, as well as establish territorial status.

Adults howl standing, while young or subordinate specimens do so in a sitting posture, with the frequency of howling increasing during the mating season. The golden jackal has been recorded to howl upon hearing church bells, sirens or the whistles of steam engines and boats. It typically howls at dawn, midday and the evening. When in the vicinity of tigers, leopards or any other cause for alarm, the golden jackal emits a cry that has been variously transliterated as "pheal", "phion" or "phnew". When hunting in a pack, the dominant jackal initiates an attack by repeatedly emitting a sound transliterated as "okkay!".

Range and conservation

The species is common in North and north-east Africa, occurring from Senegal to Egypt in the east, in a range including Morocco, Algeria, and Libya in the north to Nigeria, Chad and Tanzania in the south. It also inhabits the Arabian Peninsula and has expanded into Europe. The jackal's current European range mostly encompasses the Balkans, where habitat loss and mass poisoning caused it to become extinct in many areas the 1960s, with core populations only occurring in scattered regions such as Strandja, the Dalmatian Coast, Aegean Macedonia and the Peloponnese.

It recolonized its former territories in Bulgaria in 1962, following legislative protection, and subsequently expanded its range into Romania and Serbia. Individual jackals further expanded into Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia during the 1980s. Recently, an isolated population was confirmed in western Estonia, much further than their common range. Whether they are an introduced population or a natural migration is yet unknown. To the east, its range runs through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, the entire Indian subcontinent, then east and south to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and parts of Indochina.

In India, the golden jackal is included in CITES Appendix III, and is featured in Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, thus receiving legal protection, albeit at the lowest level. The species occurs in all of India's protected areas, save for those in the higher areas of the Himalayas. Golden jackals in East Africa occur in numerous conservation units, including the Serengeti-Masai Mara-Ngorongoro complex.

Although listed as vulnerable in the Red Data Book for Greek Vertebrates, the golden jackal is not listed as a game species in Greece, nor is it afforded legal protection. In Estonia, it has been classified as an invasive species, and subject to extermination campaigns. However, by 2014 the population has grown in Läänemaa, Estonia and because there is no proof whether jackals came to Estonia by natural migration or not, it has not been a subject to full extermination, as so far there is no proof of its harmful effect on local fauna The Golden Jackal is listed as an Annex V species in the EU Habitats Directive and as such has legal protection in Estonia, Greece and all other EU member states.

Diseases and parasites

The golden jackal can carry diseases and parasites harmful to human health, including rabies and Donovan's Leishmania (which, although harmless to jackals, can cause leishmaniasis in people). Jackals in the Serengeti are known to carry the canine parvovirus, canine herpesvirus, canine coronavirus and canine adenovirus.

Jackals in southwestern Tajikistan have been recorded to carry 16 species of cestodes, roundworms and acanthocephalans, these being Sparganum mansoni, Diphyllobothrium mansonoides, Taenia hydatigena, T. pisiformis, T. ovis, Hydatigera taeniaeformis, Diphylidium caninum, Mesocestoides lineataria, Ancininum stenocephala, Dioctophyma renal, Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, Dracunculus medinensis, Filariata and Macracanthorhynchus catulinum. Jackals infected with D. medinensis can infect water bodies with their eggs, and cause dracunculiasis in people who drink from them. Jackals may also play a large part in spreading coenurosis in sheep and cattle, and canine distemper in dogs. In July 2006, a jackal in Romania was found to be carrying Trichinella britovi. Jackals consuming fish and molluscs can be infected with metagonimiasis, which was recently diagnosed in a male jackal from northeastern Italy.

In Tajikistan, golden jackals carry at least 12 tick species (which include Ixodes, Rhipicephalus turanicus, R. leporis, R. rossicus, R. sanguineus, R. pumilio, R. schulzei, Hyalomma anatolicum, H. scupense and H. asiaticum) , four flea species (Pulex irritans, Xenopsylla nesokiae, Ctenocephanlides canis and C. felis) and one species of louse (Trichodectes canis). In northeastern Italy, the species is a carrier of the tick species Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus.

In folklore, mythology and literature

The Ancient Egyptian god of embalming, Anubis, was portrayed as a jackal-headed man, or as a jackal wearing ribbons and holding a flagellum. Anubis was always shown as a jackal or dog colored black, the color of regeneration, death, and the night. It was also the color that the body turned during mummification. The reason for Anubis' animal model being canine is based on what the ancient Egyptians themselves observed of the creature - dogs and jackals often haunted the edges of the desert, especially near the cemeteries where the dead were buried. In fact, the Egyptians are thought to have begun the practice of making elaborate graves and tombs to protect the dead from desecration by jackals. Duamutef, one of the Four Sons of Horus and a protection god of the Canopic jars, was also portrayed as having jackal-like features.

Golden jackals appear prominently in Indian folklore and ancient texts, such as the Jakatas and Panchatantra, where they are often portrayed as intelligent and wily creatures. One popular Indian saying describes the jackal as "the sharpest among beasts, the crow among birds, and the barber among men". To hear a jackal howl when embarking on an early morning journey was considered to be a sign of impending good fortune, as was seeing a jackal crossing a road from the left. In Hinduism, the golden jackal is portrayed as the familiar of several deities, the most common of which being Chamunda, the emaciated, devouring goddess of the cremation grounds. Another deity associated with jackals is Kali, who inhabits the cremation ground and is surrounded by millions of jackals. According to the Tantrasara, when offered animal flesh, Kali appears before the officiant in the form of a jackal. The goddess Shivatudi is depicted with a jackal's head.

The Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Bible never mentions jackals, though this could be due to a translation error. The AVs of Isiah, Micah, Job and Malachi mention "wild beasts" and "dragons" crying in desolate houses and palaces. The original Hebrew words used are lyim (howler) and tan, respectively. According to biologist Michael Bright, tan is more likely referring to jackals than dragons, as the word is frequently used throughout the AV to describe a howling animal associated with desolation and abandoned habitations, which is consistent with the golden jackal's vast vocal repertoire and its occasional habit of living in abandoned buildings. Jeremiah makes frequent references to jackals by using the word shu'al, which can mean both jackal and fox. Although the AV translates the word as fox, the behavior described is more consistent with jackals, as shown in the books of Lamentations and Psalms, in which references are made to the shu'al's habit of eating corpses in battlefields.

Some authors have put forth that because of the general scarcity and elusiveness of foxes in Israel, the author of the Book of Judges may have actually been describing the much more common golden jackals when narrating how Samson tied torches to the tails of 300 foxes to make them destroy the vineyards of the Philistines. According to an ancient Ethiopian folktale, jackals and man first became enemies shortly before the Great Flood, when Noah initially refused to allow jackals into the ark, thinking they were unworthy of being saved, until being commanded by God to do so.

In Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli stories collected in The Jungle Book, the character Tabaqui is a jackal despised by the Sioni wolf pack, due to his mock cordiality, scavenging habits and his subservience to Shere Khan. His name likely stems from tabáqi kūtta, meaning "dish (licking) dog".

Livestock, game and crop predation

The golden jackal can be a harmful pest, attacking domestic animals such as turkeys, lambs, sheep, goats, and domestic water buffalo calves, and valuable game species like newborn roe deer, hares, coypu, pheasants, francolins, gray partridges, bustards and waterfowl. It destroys many grapes, and will eat watermelons, muskmelons and nuts.

In Greece, jackals tend not to be as damaging to livestock as wolves and red foxes are, though they can become a serious nuisance to small stock when in high numbers. In southern Bulgaria, 1, 053 attacks on small stock, mainly sheep and lambs, were recorded between 1982 and 1987, along with some damages to newborn deer in game farms. About 1.5% –1.9% of calves born on the Golan Heights die due to predation, mainly by golden jackals. In both cases, the high predation rate is attributable to a jackal population explosion due to the high availability of food in illegal garbage dumps. Preventive measures to avoid predation were also lacking in both cases.

However, even without preventive measures, the highest damages by jackals from Bulgaria were minimal when compared to the livestock losses to wolves. Golden jackals are extremely harmful to furbearing rodents, such as coypu and muskrats. Coypu can be completely extirpated in shallow water bodies during the winter of 1948–49 in the Amu Darya, muskrats constituted 12.3% of jackal faeces contents, and 71% of muskrat houses were destroyed by jackals, 16% of which froze and became unsuitable for muskrat occupation. Jackals also harm the fur industry by eating muskrats caught in traps or taking skins left out to dry.

Hunting

During British rule, sportsmen in India and Iraq would hunt jackals on horseback with hounds as a substitute for the fox hunting of their native England. Although not considered as beautiful as English red foxes, golden jackals were esteemed for their endurance in the chase, with one pursuit having been recorded to have lasted 3½ hours. India's weather and terrain also added further challenges to jackal hunters not present in England the hounds of India were rarely in the same good condition as English hounds were, and although the golden jackal has a strong odor, the terrain of northern India was not good in retaining scent. Also, unlike foxes, golden jackals were documented to feign death when caught, and could be ferociously protective of their captured packmates. Jackals were hunted in three ways: with greyhounds, foxhounds and with mixed packs. Hunting jackals with greyhounds offered poor sport, as greyhounds were too fast for jackals, and mixed packs were too difficult to control. British hunters distinguished between three types of jackal the city scavenger, which was slow and smelly, and which the dogs did not like to follow the "village jack", which was faster, more alert, and less odorous and the open-country jack, which was still faster, cleaner, and provided better sport.

Some indigenous people of India, such as the Kolis and Vaghirs of Gujarat and Rajastan and the Narikuravas in Tamil Nadu, hunt and eat golden jackals, but the majority of South Asian cultures consider the animal unclean. The orthodox dharma texts forbid the eating of jackals, as they have five nails (panchanakha). In the former Soviet Union, jackals are not actively hunted, and are usually captured incidentally during the hunting of other animals by means of traps or shooting during drives. In the Trans-Caucasus, jackals are captured with large fishing hooks baited with meat, suspended 75–100 cm from the ground with wire. The jackals can only reach the meat by jumping, and are hooked by the lip or jaw.

Fur use

In Russia and other nations of the former Soviet Union, golden jackals are considered furbearers, albeit ones of low quality due to their sparse, coarse and monotonously colored fur. Asiatic and Near Eastern jackals produce the coarsest pelts, though this can be remedied during the dressing process. As jackal hairs have very little fur fiber, their skins have a flat appearance. The softest furs come from Elburz in northern Iran. Jackals are known to have been hunted for their fur in the 19th century: in the 1880s, 200 jackals were captured annually in Mervsk. In the Zakatal area of ​​the Trans-Caucasus, 300 jackals were captured in 1896. During that period, a total of 10, 000 jackals had been taken within Russia, and were sent exclusively to the Nizhegorod fair. In the early 1930s, 20-25 thousand jackal skins were tanned annually in the Soviet Union, though the stocks were significantly underused, as over triple that amount could have been produced. Before 1949 and the onset of the Cold War, the majority of jackal skins were exported to the USA. Despite their geographical variations, jackal skins are not graded according to a fur standard, and are typically used in the manufacture of cheap collars, women's coats and fur coats.

In captivity

The golden jackal may have once been tamed in Neolithic Turkey 11, 000 years ago, as evidenced by a sculpture of a man cradling a jackal found in Göbekli Tepe. Golden jackals are present in almost all Indian zoos, with 67 males, 72 females, and 54 unsexed individuals as of March 2000. Outside India, golden jackals are rarely kept in Western zoos, where the more colorful black-backed jackal is mostly exhibited.

In 1975, scientists at Russia's DS Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection began a breeding project in which they crossed golden jackals with huskies, to create an improved breed with the jackal's power of scent and the husky's resistance to cold. In recent years, Aeroflot has used one-quarter jackal hybrids, known as Sulimov dogs, to sniff out explosives otherwise undetectable by machinery.

Attacks on humans

Jackals are responsible for 1.7% of rabies infections in humans in India, coming in third place after foxes (3%) and dogs (96%). During 1998–2005, 220 cases of jackal attacks on humans occurred in Chhattisgarh's Marwahi forest division, though none were fatal. The majority of these attacks occurred in villages, followed by forests and crop fields. On 6 October 2008, a rabid jackal attacked 36 people in five villages in Berasia, Bhopal district, four of whom died later. In early 2012, a jackal thought to be non-rabid injured 11 people, three of them seriously in Chincholi, Gulbarga district. There are several reports of jackal attacks on humans in Iran in 1996, a jackal injured a 10-year-old boy, and in late 1997, a jackal injured a man and mauled his seven-day-old son in Kerman Province.

See also

  • Coyote
  • Gray wolf
  • Jackal
  • Jackal-dog hybrid
  • Jackal-wolf hybrid

External links

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Scientific classification

Common names

  • German: Goldschakal
  • Spanish:
    • Chacal común
    • Dorado
    • Moro
  • French: Chacal doré
  • Italian: Golden jackal
  • Dutch:
    • Goudjakhals
    • Gewone jakhals
  • Russian:
    • Обыкновéнный шакáл
    • азиáтский шакáл
    • чекáлка
  • Swedish: Guldschakal
  • Thai: หมาจิ้งจอก

Subspecies

Canis aureus aureus, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

Common name: Common jackal

Range: Middle Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Arabian Peninsula, Baluchistan, northwestern India. Large, with soft, pale fur with predominantly sandy tones.

Canis aureus cruesemanni, Paul Matschie, 1900

Common name: Siamese jackal

Range: Smaller than C. a. indicus, its status as a separate subspecies has been disputed by certain authors, who state its classification as such is based solely on observations of captive animals. Thailand, Myanmar to east India.

Canis aureus ecsedensis, Miklós Kretzoi, 1947

Canis aureus indicus, Brian Houghton Hodgson, 1833

Common name: Indian jackal

Range: India, Nepal. Its fur is a mixture of black and white, with buff on the shoulders, ears and legs. The buff color is more pronounced in specimens from high altitudes. Black hairs predominate on the middle of the back and tail. The belly, chest and the sides of the legs are creamy white, while the face and lower flanks are grizzled with gray fur. Adults grow to a length of 100 cm (39 in), 35–45 cm (14–18 in) in height and 8–11 kg (18-24 lb) in weight.

Canis aureus moreoticus, Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1835

Common name: European jackal

Range: Southeastern Europe, Asia Minor and Caucasus. One of the largest in the world, animals of both sexes average 120–125 cm (47–49 in) in total length and 10–15 kg (20-33 lb) in body weight. The fur is coarse, and is generally brightly colored with blackish tones on the back. The thighs, upper legs, ears and forehead are bright-reddish chestnut.

Canis aureus naria, Robert Charles Wroughton, 1916

Common name: Sri Lankan jackal

Range: Southern India, Sri Lanka. Measures 67–74 cm (26½-29 inches) in length and weighs 5-8.6 kg (12-19 lbs). The winter coat is shorter, smoother and not as shaggy as that of indicus. The coat is also darker on the back, being black and speckled with white. The underside is more pigmented on the chin, hind throat, chest and forebelly, while the limbs are rusty ochreous or a rich tan. Moulting occurs earlier in the season than with indicus, and the pelt generally does not lighten in color.

Canis aureus syriacus, Wilhelm Friedrich Hemprich & Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, 1833

Common name: Syrian jackal

Range: Israel, western Jordan. It weighs 5–12 kg (11–27 lb), and has a body length of 60–90 cm (24–35 in). Distinguished by its brown ears, each hair of the back consists of four distinct colors: white at the root, then black, then foxy-red, and the point is black.


Index

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Description
  • 3 Evolution and taxonomy
    • 3.1 Subspecies
  • 4 Behavior
    • 4.1 Reproduction and growth
    • 4.2 Burrows and shelters
    • 4.3 Predatory behavior
  • 5 Ecology
    • 5.1 Habitat
    • 5.2 Diet
    • 5.3 Enemies and Competitors
  • 6 Areal
    • 6.1 In Europe
      • 6.1.1 Balkans and Black Sea Area
      • 6.1.2 Central and Northern Europe
      • 6.1.3 Italy
  • 7 Diseases and parasites
  • 8 Relations with man
    • 8.1 Role in mythology and literature
    • 8.2 Damage to livestock, game and crops
    • 8.3 Hunting
    • 8.4 Use of fur
    • 8.5 In captivity
  • 9 Notes
  • 10 Related items
  • 11 Other projects
  • 12 External links

The word "jackal" comes from the Turkish term Çakal, in turn derived from the Persian Shaghāl, which probably derives from Sanskrit Śṛgālaḥ. [10] In the Friulian language, it is called Coiòte, while in Veneto it is named Sciacàl. [11]

The golden jackal is very similar to the gray wolf in general appearance but differs in its small size, lower weight, shorter limbs, more elongated chest and shorter tail. The tip of the tail descends to the heel or slightly below. The head is less stocky than that of the wolf, with a lower forehead and a narrower and more pointed muzzle. The projections of the skull are highly developed, but less than what is seen in the wolf. Its canine teeth are large and stocky, but relatively slender than those of the wolf, and its carnassials are less robust. Males measure 71–85 cm in length, 44.5–50 cm in height and weigh approximately 6–14 kg, while females are slightly smaller. [12] Sometimes the jackal develops a horny growth on the skull to which the inhabitants of Southeast Asia attribute magical powers. Usually this horn is about one centimeter long and is hidden by the fur. [13] Females have 10 udders. [12]

The winter coat is generally a dirty reddish-gray color with the ends of the guard hairs blackish or rusty red. The facial region, except for the muzzle, is reddish-rust and ocher above each eye, the iris of which can be either light or dark brown, a black stripe is present. The lips, cheeks, chin and throat are off-white. The outer face of the legs is red-ocher, while the inner one is light in color. The summer coat is sparser, coarser and shorter, but it is the same color as the winter one: it is only shinier and less dark. [7] [12] The golden jackal moults twice a year, in spring and autumn. [12]

Melanistic specimens are not unknown and were in the past considered "not at all rare" in Bengal. [14] Unlike wolves and melanistic coyotes, which historically inherited their black coat through crossbreeding with dogs, it is likely that melanism in the golden jackal is due to an independent mutation and is an adaptive trait. [15] In 2012, an albino specimen was photographed in southeastern Iran. [16]

The golden jackal is poorly represented in the fossil record and its direct ancestor is still unknown two presumed candidates, Canis kuruksaensis is C. arnensis (from Tajikistan and Villafranchian Italy), they were later discovered to be more related to the coyote than to the jackal. [11] [17] Jackal-like fossils date back to the Lower Pleistocene in South Africa, but positively identified specimens only date to the early Middle Pleistocene. The absence of fossils in the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, areas where it lives today, indicates that the species colonized these areas relatively recently. Given that fossil remains found in Croatia indicate that the species had settled in Dalmatia from at least the Upper Pleistocene or the Lower Holocene, the presence of the golden jackal in the Balkan Peninsula can however be considered quite ancient. It is likely that the jackal entered the Balkans during the last Ice Age via a land bridge over today's Bosphorus Strait. [7]

The golden jackal is the most typical member of the genus Canis, being of medium size and having no special characters. [18] Although less "primitive" than the black-backed jackal and the striped jackal, [19] it is still less specialized than the gray wolf, as evidenced by its less elongated face, its less robust set of teeth, and the lesser projections of the skull. developed. These traits are linked to a diet consisting of the animal's birds, rodents, small vertebrates, insects, and carrion. [12] The characteristics of the skull, [18] together with its genetic composition, [20] indicate a closer relationship to the wolf and the coyote than to the black-backed and striped jackals.

In 2015, a study of the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes of African and Eurasian jackals showed that the African specimens formed a monofileptic lineage which justifies their classification as members of a separate species, the Canis anthus (later renamed C. lupaster [21]), and that any superficial similarity between the two species is purely due to a parallel evolution. [6] [22] A phylogenetic analysis based on nuclear sequences indicated that the C. lupaster separated from the wolf / coyote clade about 1.3 million years ago, while the golden jackal separated from it 1.9 million years ago.

In an attempt to clarify the genetic identity of European jackal populations, an international team of researchers examined 15 microsatellite markers from ninety-seven European and Caucasian specimens. The results revealed that European jackals show little haplotypic variability compared to Israeli specimens (which have often crossed with dogs, gray wolves, and African wolves) and that most of them are of Caucasian origin. The highest levels of diversity were found by the Peloponnesian jackals, who probably represent a relict population of the ancient jackals that populated Europe before their extermination. Since, both in Estonia and in Lithuania, the golden jackal is considered an artificially introduced species, and therefore to be exterminated, particular attention was paid, in these studies, to the Baltic populations, and it was therefore discovered that the Estonian specimens come from ' South-eastern Europe, while Lithuanian ones are of Caucasian origin, this made the hypothesis of an artificial introduction doubtful, supporting earlier findings relating to the northward expansion of the populations of south-eastern and eastern Europe. [23]

In captivity, the golden jackal can produce hybrids with coyotes, which become sterile after the second generation. Conversely, the jackal appears to have unlimited fertility with dogs and gray wolves. [7] In 2015, the cross between the golden jackal and the domestic dog in the wild was confirmed in Croatia with the culling of three specimens with abnormal morphologies. [24] Mating between jackals and gray wolves has never been observed but evidence of such events was found during a mitochondrial DNA analysis of jackals and wolves in Bulgaria. [9] Traces of African wolf DNA have been found in jackals in Israel, a phenomenon made possible by the geographical link between Israel and Egypt. [6]

Subspecies Edit

Given the vast diffusion of this species, a large number of local variants have been described, regarding whose genetics there is still much to investigate while the karyotype of Croatian jackals is similar to that of dogs and wolves (2n = 78 NF = 84), in fact, that of the Indian jackals differs considerably (NF = 80), indicating the possibility that the jackal is an aggregate of not yet well defined species. [7]

Since 2005, the MSW [5] has recognized 13 subspecies but, in 2015, genetic studies have shown that six of the supposed subspecies in Africa are instead part of a species in their own right, the Canis lupaster, with a genetic divergence of approximately 6.7%, [6] which is greater than that between gray wolves and coyotes (4%) and between gray wolves and domestic dogs (0.2%). [25]

Linnaeus, 1758 It is the nominal subspecies. Of large size, it has a soft light coat with predominantly sandy tones [12]. It lives in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Balochistan and northwestern India. balcanicus (Brusina, 1892)

caucasian (Kolenati, 1858)
dalmatinus (Wagner, 1841)
hadramauticus (Noack, 1896)
hungaricus (Ehik, 1938)
kola (Wroughton, 1916)
lanka (Wroughton, 1916)
maroccanus (Cabrera, 1921)
typicus (Kolenati, 1858)
vulgaris (Wagner, 1841)

The golden jackal is a socially flexible animal, living in solitude or in family groups of 4-5 individuals. Its vocalizations are similar to those of the dog, but more "melancholic". Its howl consists of a "Ai-yai! Ai-yai!"acute, [12] with at least one variant commonly interpreted in English as"Dead Hindoo, where, where, where» (Hindu dead, where, where, where). [29] Adults howl while standing, while juveniles or subordinates do so seated, increasing the frequency of howling during the mating season. [11] Jackals have been seen howling in the direction of church bells, sirens or the whistles of locomotives and steamboats. They generally howl at dawn, around noon and in the evening hours. [12] When in proximity to tigers or leopards, jackals emit an alarm call often interpreted as "Pheal», «Phion" or "Phnew". [29] Compared to young wolves and dogs, golden jackal pups are much more aggressive and less playful with each other, with interactions that often degenerate into uninhibited fights. [32]

Reproduction and growth Edit

In Transcaucasia, estrus begins in early February or late January during the hottest winters. In Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the mating season continues until early March. In males, spermatogenesis occurs 10 - 12 days before females enter estrus and during this time their testes triple in weight. The estrus lasts 3 - 4 days and the females who fail to mate in this period undergo a loss of receptivity which lasts 6 - 8 days. Mating takes place during the day, after which the partners remain attached for 20 - 45 minutes. The couples are monogamous and remain together until the death of one of the partners. The males take part in the breeding of the young and also dig the den destined for them. The gestation period lasts 60 - 63 days. [12]

In Transcaucasia the chicks are usually born at the end of March and at the beginning of April, [12] in north-eastern Italy most likely at the end of April, [7] while in Nepal they can be born at any time of the year. [27] Each litter consists of 3 - 8 pups that are born with their eyes closed and with a soft coat that varies in color from light gray to dark brown. At one month of age this hair falls off and is replaced by a new reddish coat with black speckles. The period of breastfeeding varies in duration depending on the place: in the Caucasus it lasts 50 - 70 days, while in Tajikistan it can last up to 90 days. Babies start eating meat at the age of 15 - 20 days, although they are rarely fed regurgitated food. They grow very quickly: at the age of two days they weigh 201 - 214 g, at one month 560 - 726 g and at four months 2 700 –3 250 g. Once the lactation phase is over, they are removed from the mother. [12] Babies from previous litters may stay with their parents to help them raise the next litter, although their sexual behavior is suppressed. [7]

Burrows and shelters Edit

In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, the females give birth in burrows dug with the assistance of the males but sometimes they seize the dens abandoned by foxes or badgers. The den can be found either in dense shrubs, on the slopes of gullies or on flat surfaces. The Golden Jackal's Lair consists of a simple structure with a single entrance leading to a cave at a depth of 1-1.4 meters. In Dagestan and Azerbaijan, litters are sometimes given birth in the crevices of dead trees, among tree roots or under stones along rivers. In Central Asia, the jackal does not dig burrows but takes refuge in bushes tugai. The jackals of the tugai del Vahš dig three-meter-long burrows under tree roots or in dense bushes. [12]

Predatory behavior Edit

When hunting, jackals only rarely form small groups, although in summer, in Transcaucasia, multifamily herds of 8 - 12 specimens have been observed. When hunting alone, the golden jackal patrols a certain area stopping every now and then to smell and listen and, once it has located its prey, it hides, approaches slowly and then launches the attack. When hunting in pairs or in packs, the various specimens run side by side and strike their prey in unison. When hunting rodents or waterfowl, they run along both sides of a narrow stream or stream, directing their prey from one specimen to another. [12]

Habitat Edit

Golden jackals are generally lowland animals: in the Caucasus and Transcaucasia they only very rarely rise above 600 meters, although in Borjomi some specimens have been found at 900 - 1050 meters and in Armenia at 840 meters. The presence of these animals and the choice of habitat are largely determined by the availability of food, the presence of water and thick woods where they can hide from the eyes of prey and enemies. They are very abundant especially in areas where the streams do not remain frozen for long and where the Anseriformes winter. Although not well adapted to living in harsh climates, golden jackals can tolerate temperatures as low as -25 ° C or even -35 ° C. In periods of heavy snow they only move on paths made by man or large animals. Jackals avoid waterless desert areas, going only to their edges. On the coasts of the Black and Caspian Seas they favor dense thickets of thorny shrubs with tunnels through the undergrowth created by larger animals, such as wild boars. In Central Asia and Kazakhstan they prefer thickets of tugai, the spots located on abandoned irrigated land and the reeds. In areas where the vegetation is less dense, such as the valleys of Gissar and Fergana, the jackals reside on the lower hills, where they find refuge in dry channels, caves and dens abandoned by foxes. [12] In Iraq, they are common in cultivated areas near the Persian Gulf and the lower mountains. They are also found in archaeological sites, where the dry soil allows them to dig durable burrows. They also report at the banks of irrigation canals, which provide shelters, soft soil and an abundance of prey. [33]

In Italy this species reproduces both near the towns of the plains (around Udine) and in the pre-alpine valleys (valley of the upper course of the Natisone / Nadiza, in the eastern area of ​​Friuli, on the Karst, in various valleys of Carnia, in Val Canale and canal del Ferro has also been seen in recent times in the surroundings of the municipality of Socchieve, also living in various locations of the Alpine chain up to altitudes of 1 200/1 300 meters (surroundings of San Vito di Cadore, Carnia, Val Pusteria / Pustertal and on Monte Peller in Val di Non) [7] [34] [35]. Some sightings have also been made on the central-western Julian pre-Alps and on the Carnic pre-Alps. Sub-adult specimens, however, have also been sighted in some areas urban areas of the Venetian alluvial plain, both in the province of Venice (San Donà di Piave) and Treviso (Preganziol) [34], as well as in Trentino in Valsugana. [36]

Diet Modification

The golden jackal has opportunistic eating habits: it is both a predator and a scavenger and during certain seasons it quietly eats waste and vegetables. In the former Soviet Union, jackals mainly hunt hares, small rodents, pheasants, partridges, ducks, coots, moorhens and passerines. They also eat lizards, snakes, frogs, insects, fish, and shellfish. During the winter they catch many otters and anseriformes. During these times, jackals kill far more animals than they can eat. They also eat various fruits, such as pears, hawthorns, dogwoods, and the fruits of the common medlar. In spring, they dig for bulbs and roots of wild sugar cane. In summer, jackals drink regularly and often stop near water sources. In times of drought they dig holes in dry canals, drink the water collected in the ground, and eat dead fish and birds that have come ashore to drink. In the vicinity of human settlements, jackals roam in search of food at slaughterhouses, landfills and places where dead cattle are buried. In Dagestan, in the 1920s, jackals used to go to eat along the railway lines, feeding on the remains of food thrown off the train by passengers. [12] In Hungary the most frequent preys are the field vole and the reddish vole, [37] There is little information regarding the diet of jackals in north-eastern Italy, but it is known that they feed on small roe deer and hares. [7] In Turkey, jackals eat the eggs of the very rare green turtle. [38] Pairs of jackals have been seen capturing forelegs in northwestern Bangladesh. [39] Young specimens of Northern Plains lizard are also rarely captured. [40]

Enemies and competitors Edit

Golden jackals tend to take dominance over smaller Canidae species. In Israel, red foxes are very common, the latter, although smaller than jackals, have the same eating habits and therefore the two species often come into direct conflict. Foxes generally ignore the scent traces left in their territory by jackals but avoid any physical encounter with them. Studies have shown that, in areas where jackals are very numerous, the population of foxes decreases considerably, apparently due to competition with them [41]. Conversely, jackals seem more numerous in areas where there are no wolves. The latter, in fact, do not tolerate the presence of jackals in their territory and have been seen approaching with a fast trot to the call stations for jackals, probably in order to chase them away. [28] The recent expansion of the jackal in Eastern and Western Europe has been attributed to the decline of wolf populations in historical times. The current diffusion in the upper Adriatic hinterland seems to be rapidly expanding [34] in the various areas where wolves are absent or very rare. [42] In southeastern Asia, golden jackals hunt in the company of herds of cuon. [43]

In India, lone jackals expelled from the herd form commensal relationships with tigers. These solitary jackals, known as kol-bahl, they attach themselves to a specific tiger, following it at a safe distance in order to feed on the prey killed by the big cat. A kol-bahl it can even warn a tiger of the presence of prey by emitting a loud call that resonates like a pheal. Tigers tolerate these jackals: in one known case a jackal walked confidentially back and forth between three tigers walking together within a few meters of each other. [29] [44]

In Kutch, India, striped hyenas prey on jackals a den of these predators contained three jackal carcasses. [4]

The current European golden jackal range is concentrated mainly in the Balkan Peninsula, where habitat loss and poisoning caused its extinction in many areas during the 1960s, with most populations concentrated in dispersed areas such as Strandža. , the Dalmatian coast, Aegean Macedonia, and the Peloponnese. It recovered in Bulgaria in 1962 following legal protection and from there it expanded its range to Romania and Serbia. Isolated specimens penetrated Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia during the 1980s. [45] The jackal is categorized as an Annex V species in the Habitats Directive, and is therefore a protected species in all states of the European Union.

In the east, its range extends through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, the entire Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and various parts of Indochina. In India, the species is included in CITES Annex III and in Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, thus providing it with legal protection, even if of low priority. The jackal is widespread in all protected areas of India, except in the elevated areas of the Himalayas. [3]

In Europe Edit

Balkans and Black Sea Area Edit

Bulgaria has the largest jackal population in Europe, witnessing a sharp increase from the early 1960s to the 1980s. The decisive factors for this growth included the replacement of natural forests with dense shrubs, an increase in carrion from reserves. of state hunting, a reduction in the number of wolves and the abandonment of the practice of poisoning. In the early 1990s, it was estimated that up to 5,000 jackals lived in Bulgaria. The population increased again in 1994, after which it appears to have stabilized. [28]

In Greece, the jackal is the rarest canid, being extinct in central and western areas and surviving only in isolated populations in the Peloponnese, Phocis, on the island of Samos, in the Halkidiki peninsula and in north-eastern Greece. Currently, the largest population is found at the Mesta. Although classified as a vulnerable species on the Greek IUCN Red List, the species has not been formally declared protected. [46]

The populations in Serbia have been in a state of increase since the 1970s and are concentrated mainly in northeastern Serbia and lower Syrmia. They are particularly common near Negotin and Bela Palanka, where about five hundred were killed in the 1990s. [28] In Croatia, an investigation in 2007 revealed the presence of 19 herds in the northwestern part of Ravni Kotari and two individuals on Puntadura. [47] It is a protected species in Slovenia, where it was first sighted in 1952. [48] In 2005, a wandering female was accidentally killed near Gornji Grad. [49] In 2009, two herds were discovered in the marshes near Ljubljana . [48] ​​In contrast to these increases, populations in Albania are on the verge of extinction, with the few remaining specimens concentrated in three wetlands along the Adriatic. [28]

The status of the populations in Turkey, Romania, on the northern Black Sea coast and in the Caucasus is virtually unknown. There are indications of an increase in Romania and on the northwestern Black Sea coast but also of a decline in Turkey. [28]

Central and Northern Europe Edit

The golden jackal disappeared in Hungary in the 1950s due to excessive culling and habitat destruction, but returned in the 1970s, with the first pair discovered near the southern border of Transdanubia, then between the Danube and Tisza. Since that time, the jackal population in Hungary has grown year by year, with some estimates indicating that it exceeds that of red foxes. The colonization of the entire country was confirmed in 2007 with the sighting of a specimen near the border with Austria. [50] [51]

In the Czech Republic, a dead adult was found on the road near Podolí in March 2006. [52]

In 2013, an isolated population was confirmed in western Estonia, [53] where the golden jackal is classified as an invasive species and is subject to extermination campaigns. Despite this, in 2014 the species expanded into Läänemaa. [54]

In September 2015, a dead specimen was discovered on a road near Karup in Denmark. [55]

Its presence in Poland was confirmed in 2015 through the necropsy of a specimen accidentally killed in the northwest and the camera trapping of two live specimens in eastern Poland. [56]

In 2016, in Switzerland, in the Canton of Schwyz, a specimen was killed because it was mistaken for a fox. [57]

In December 2017, a jackal was photographed near Haute-Savoie in southeastern France. [58]

In April 2020, a specimen was spotted, photographed and filmed by a Ticino gamekeeper, in Val Onsernone (Switzerland).

Italy Edit

In Italy, the species is found in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. [34] The species entered the Province of Belluno in 1984 and a herd was sighted in 1985 near Udine. In 1992, a specimen killed in a road accident in Veneto was discovered and the presence of the species was later confirmed in the province of Gorizia and in the hinterland of the Gulf of Trieste. In all these cases, the specimens were usually young wandering males, until a family group was found in Agordino in 1994. [59] With the discovery of a carcass of a female specimen in December 2009 in Carnia, it was confirmed that the populations of jackal in Italy were expanding. It was also reported in the same year in Trentino-Alto Adige, where it is likely that it colonized the Val Pusteria. [11] On 24 May 2017 a golden jackal was photographed in the province of Bergamo. [60] On 5 June 2017 a male specimen was sighted in the Mirandolese Valleys in the province of Modena: [61] this sighting constitutes the most advanced point of the expansion of the species towards central Italy. In the summer of 2019, two specimens were provided with radio collars to study the territorial expansion of the species. The first, an 11-month-old male named "Alberto", was found hit by a car at the Gemona motorway exit and then released after veterinary treatment in the Municipality of Osoppo on 9 April. [62] The second, "Yama", was captured and tagged at the Doberdò and Pietrarossa Lakes Regional Nature Reserve, in the province of Gorizia. [63] Yama died on September 20, killed by a vehicle along the Monfalcone motorway. [64]. On 18 November 2020 the carcass of a female specimen was found in Sandrà di Castelnuovo del Garda in the province of Verona. On March 18, 2021, an example was found victim of a road investment on the Provincial 565 of Castellamonte in Strambinello (TO) in Canavese. [65]

The Italian branch of WWF said the number of specimens in Italy is likely to be underestimated. [59] The golden jackal is a protected animal in Italy. [11]

Golden jackals can transmit diseases and parasites harmful to human health among them are Donovan's anger and leishmania (which, although harmless to jackals, can cause leishmaniasis in humans). 16 species of tapeworms, nematodes and acanthocephals have been found in the jackals of southwestern Tajikistan (Sparganum mansoni, Diphyllobothrium mansonoides, Taenia hydatigena, T. pisiformis, T. ovis, Hydatigera taeniaeformis, Diphylidium caninum, Mesocestoides lineatus, Ancylostoma caninum, Uncinaria stenocephala, Renal dioctophyma, Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, Dracunculus medinensis, Filariate is Macracanthorhynchus catulinum). Jackals infected with D. medinensis they can infect water sources with parasite eggs and cause dracunculiasis in men who drink these waters. Jackals also play an important role in the spread of coenurosis in sheep and cattle and distemper in dogs. [12] Serengeti jackals can transmit canine parvovirus, canine herpesvirus, canine coronavirus, and canine adenovirus. [4] In July 2006, a Romanian jackal was found to have Trichinella britovi. [66] Jackals that feed on fish and molluscs may be affected by metagominiasis, which has recently been found in a male from north-eastern Italy [34]. In Tajikistan, at least twelve species of ticks (including Ixodes, Rhipicephalus turanicus, R. leporis, R. rossicus, R. sanguineus, R. pumilio, R. schulzei, Hyalomma anatolicum, H. scupense is H. asiaticum), four species of fleas (Pulex irritans, Xenopsylla nesokiae, Ctenocephalides canis is C. felis) and a kind of louse (Trichodectes canis). [12] In north-eastern Italy this species carries a species of tick, Ixodes ricinus, and of Dermacentor reticulatus. [34]

Role in mythology and literature Edit

The King James Authorized Version of the Bible never mentions jackals, but this may be due to a translation error. In the Books of Isaiah, Micah, Job, and Malachi, "wild beasts" and "dragons" are mentioned crying in uninhabited houses and palaces. The original Hebrew words are respectively lyim (screamer) e tan. According to biologist Michael Bright, tan is a term that more properly refers to the jackal than the dragon, as the word is used throughout the Bible to describe a howling animal associated with desolation and abandoned dwellings.The golden jackal has a vast vocal repertoire and the occasional habit of living in abandoned buildings. In the Book of Jeremiah frequent references are made to jackals, using the word shu'al, which can mean both jackal and fox. Although in translations of the Bible this term is always translated as fox, the behavior described is much more reminiscent of that of the jackal: in the Books of Lamentations and Psalms, for example, reference is made to the habit of shu'al to feed on the dead on the battlefield. Some scholars speculate that, due to the general rarity and elusiveness of foxes in Israel, the author of the Book of Judges may have described the most common golden jackals when he recounts how Samson tied torches to the tails of 300 foxes to destroy the vineyards of the Philistines. [67]

The golden jackal is very frequent in Indian folklore and sacred texts, especially in the Jātaka and the Pañcatantra, where he is often portrayed in contexts of fraud and deception. [4] A popular Indian saying describes the jackal as "the smartest of beasts, the raven of birds and the barber of men." Hearing a jackal's howl or seeing one crossing a road to the left before a morning journey was considered a sign of good luck. [68] In Hinduism, the golden jackal is depicted as the companion of various gods, especially Chamunda, the goddess of cremations. Another deity associated with jackals is Kālī, who is often depicted surrounded by millions of jackals. According to Tantrasāra, if human flesh is offered to her by a disciple, Kālī appears to the disciple in the form of a jackal. The goddess Shivatudi is sometimes depicted with the head of a jackal. [69] In Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli Stories collected in The Jungle Book, the character Tabaqui is portrayed as a jackal detested by wolves, due to his false friendliness and his submission to Shere Khan. It is likely that its name derives from tabáqi kūtta, that is "dish licking dog". [68]

Some talking golden jackals appear in Jackals and Arabs by Franz Kafka in the story these animals convince a European traveler to put an end to a feud between them and the Arab people.

Although present in Europe, jackals appear very rarely in the folklore and literature of this continent. Testimonies collected in the upper Adriatic hinterland indicate that all the people who had to deal with these animals (hunters, gamekeepers and local inhabitants) regularly exchanged red foxes affected by sarcoptic mange (or foxes in a particular period of the moult) for golden jackals. . However, when a true golden jackal was sighted, the latter was often mistaken for a wolf or a werewolf. The presence of these animals was later ascertained both with photographic traps and with a careful study of the footprints, which confirmed the previous observations. This erroneous and controversial perception of the golden jackal could be due to the fact that this animal does not appear in Italian or Slovenian folklore or even in the hunting traditions of these countries [34].

Damage to livestock, game and crops Edit

Golden jackals can be very harmful to human activities as they attack domestic animals such as turkeys, lambs, sheep, goats and, in one documented case, even a small domestic water buffalo. They destroy many vineyards and eat watermelons, melons and walnuts [12]. In Greece, jackals do not tend to attack livestock, such as wolves and red foxes, but, when in large numbers, they can become a serious threat to sheep and goats [28]. In southern Bulgaria, 1 053 attacks on sheep and goats, mainly sheep and lambs, were recorded in 1982-87, as well as various killings of fawns in game reserves [28]. In Israel, about 1.5 - 1.9% of calves born in the Golan Heights die from attacks by predators, especially golden jackals. In both cases, the high rate of predation is believed to be due to an increase in the jackal population caused by the increased availability of food provided by illegal landfills [70]. Preventive measures have also been taken in these areas. However, even without them, the damage caused by jackals in Bulgaria is negligible compared to that caused by wolves [28]. Golden jackals are also extremely harmful to furry rodents, such as otters and muskrats. In many areas where jackals live, otters almost completely disappeared during the winter of 1948-49 along the Amu Darya, muskrats made up 12.3% of the faecal contents of jackals and 71% of their homes were destroyed by these Canids (16% of them froze completely and became unusable for rodents). Jackals also do a lot of damage to the fur industry, devouring trapped muskrats and taking away the skins laid out to dry [12].

Hunting Edit

“In my opinion, the jackal is more difficult to kill with the fox's hounds. He doesn't follow the rules like the fox does. He is equally smart, intelligent and savage, but far less sophisticated. I used to like to think that in the jackal hunt we could witness the hunt as it was during a more primitive phase than the one that has now invaded England. "

During the British imperial era, sport hunters in India and Iraq hunted jackals on horseback with the assistance of hounds as a substitute for UK fox hunting. [71] [33] Although the jackal was not considered as physically beautiful as the fox, it was still valued for its stamina while running, with at least one chase lasting three and a half hours. The Indian climate and terrain also offered challenges to jackal hunters not present in England.The Indian hounds were rarely of the same quality as the English ones and, despite the strong smell of the jackal, the Indian soil was not favorable in retaining odors . [71] Furthermore, jackals, unlike foxes, were seen both feigning death and becoming fiercely protective of their packmates. [14] Jackals were hunted in three ways: with greyhounds, with foxhounds, and with teams of mixed hounds. Since greyhounds were too fast for jackals, however, hunting jackals with their aid was not considered a true sport, while packs of mixed braces were difficult to control. [71] British hunters categorized jackals into three types: the urban scavenger, believed to be slow and so smelly that it horrified the dogs, the village jackal, faster and more alert and less smelly, and the open lowland jackal, which they believed to be be the fastest and most sporty. [33]

Certain Indian populations, such as the koli and vaghir of Gujarat and Rajasthan and the narikuravas of Tamil Nadu, hunt and eat jackals, but most South Asian cultures regard them as unclean animals. Since jackals have five claws, moreover, dharma forbids its consumption. [69] In the former Soviet Union, jackals are not caught in large numbers and when they do, they are usually left in traps intended for other animals or accidentally killed during hunting trips. In Transcaucasia, jackals are caught with large fishing hooks placed in pieces of meat suspended 75 - 100 cm above the ground with threads. The only way the jackal has to reach the flesh is to jump: in doing so the hook penetrates deeply into the lip or jaw. [12]

Using fur Edit

In Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, golden jackals are considered to be fur animals, albeit of poor quality due to their sparse, shaggy and uniformly colored coat. [12] Asian and Near Eastern jackals produce more bristly furs but this problem can be solved during the processing stages.Since jackal hair is very low in fiber, the resulting pelts have a flattened appearance. The softest furs come from Elburz in northern Iran. [72] Jackals were hunted in large numbers for their fur, especially in the 19th century: in the 1880s, about 200 jackals were killed each year in Mervsk. In the Zakatal region of Transcaucasia, 300 jackals were captured in 1896. During this period, a total of 10,000 jackals were killed in Russia, almost all of whose skins ended up in the markets of Nizhegorod. At the beginning of the 1930s, 20-25,000 jackal skins were tanned annually in the Soviet Union, but the number of these animals was so large that it could support the capture of three times the number of specimens. Before 1949 and at the beginning of the Cold War, most skins were exported to the United States of America. Although there are geographical variations, jackal skins are not evaluated according to standards and are mainly used to make collars, women's coats and inexpensive furs. [12]

In captivity Edit

It is possible that the golden jackal was domesticated as early as in Neolithic Turkey 11,000 years ago, as demonstrated by a sculpture of a man with a jackal in his arms found in Göbekli Tepe. [73] French explorers of the nineteenth century noted that many inhabitants of the Levant kept jackals in their homes. [74]

Golden jackals are present in almost all Indian zoos, a survey in 2000 revealed the presence of 67 males, 72 females and specimens of indeterminate sex. [4] Outside of India, golden jackals are rare in Western zoos, where the more aesthetically spectacular black-backed jackal is more common. [7]

The ability of the golden jackal to cross with dogs has long been attested by naturalists. Kalmyks in particular often crossed their dogs with jackals, [74] a practice that was once common among Balkan shepherds. [7] In 1975, Russian scientists from the Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection began a breeding program in which golden jackals were crossed with huskies in order to create a hybrid with both extraordinary sense of smell of the jackal and of the cold resistance of the husky. In recent years, Aeroflot has used particular jackal hybrids, known as Sulimov's dogs, to locate explosives that are difficult to detect with mechanical equipment. [75] [76]


Contents

  • 1 Taxonomy
    • 1.1 Evolution
    • 1.2 Admixture with other Canis species
    • 1.3 Subspecies and populations
  • 2 Description
  • 3 Adaptation
    • 3.1 Distribution and habitat
    • 3.2 Diet
    • 3.3 Behavior
      • 3.3.1 Social behavior
      • 3.3.2 Reproduction
      • 3.3.3 Foraging
    • 3.4 Cooperation
    • 3.5 Competition
  • 4 Diseases and parasites
  • 5 Conservation
  • 6 Relationships with humans
    • 6.1 In folklore, mythology and literature
    • 6.2 Attacks on humans
    • 6.3 Livestock, game, and crop predation
    • 6.4 Hunting
    • 6.5 Fur use
    • 6.6 Sulimov dog
  • 7 Etymology and naming
  • 8 Notes
  • 9 References
  • 10 Bibliography
  • 11 External links

The biological family Canidae is composed of the South American canids, the fox-like canids, and the wolf-like canids. [3] All species within the wolf-like canids share a similar morphology and possess 78 chromosomes, allowing them potentially to interbreed. [4] Within the wolf-like canids is the jackal group, which includes the three jackals: the black-backed jackal (Lupulella mesomela), the side-striped jackal (Lupulella adusta), and the golden jackal (Canis aureus). These three species are approximately the same size, possess similar dental and skeletal morphology, and are identified from each other primarily by their coat color. They were once thought to have different distributions across Africa with their ranges overlapping in East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania). [5] Although the jackal group has traditionally been considered as homogenous, genetic studies show that jackals are not monophyletic (they do not share a common ancestor), [6] [7] [8] and they are only distantly related. [8] The accuracy of the colloquial name "jackal" to describe all jackals is therefore questionable. [6]

Mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) passes along the maternal line and can date back thousands of years. [9] Thus, phylogenetic analysis of mDNA sequences within a species provides a history of maternal lineages that can be represented as a phylogenetic tree. [10] [11] A 2005 genetic study of the canids found that the gray wolf and dog are the most closely related on this tree. The next most closely related are the coyote (Canis latrans), golden jackal, and Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), which have all been shown to hybridize with the dog in the wild. The next closest are the dhole (Cuon alpinus) and African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), which are not members of genus Canis. These are followed by the black-backed and side-striped jackals, members of genus Canis and the most basal members of this clade. [12]

Results from two recent studies of mDNA from golden jackals indicate that the specimens from Africa are genetically closer to the gray wolf than are the specimens from Eurasia. [6] [13] In 2015 a major DNA study of golden jackals concluded that the six C. aureus subspecies found in Africa should be reclassified under the new species C. anthus (African golden wolf), [14] [15] [16] reducing the number of golden jackal subspecies to seven. The phylogenetic tree generated from this study shows the golden jackal diverging from the wolf / coyote lineage 1.9 million years ago and the African golden wolf diverging 1.3 million years ago. The study found that the golden jackal and the African golden wolf shared a very similar skull and body morphology and that this had confused taxonomists into regarding these as one species. The study proposes that the very similar skull and body morphology is due to both species having originated from a larger common ancestor. [14]

Evolution Edit

The Arno river dog (Canis arnensis) is an extinct species of canine that was endemic to Mediterranean Europe during the Early Pleistocene around 1.9 million years ago. It is described as a small jackal-like dog and probably the ancestor of modern jackals. [17] Its anatomy and morphology relate it more to the modern golden jackal than to the two African jackal species, [18] [19] the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal.

The oldest golden jackal fossil was found at the Ksar Akil rock shelter located 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Beirut, Lebanon. The fragment of a single tooth is dated approximately 7,600 years ago. [20] The oldest golden jackal fossils found in Europe are from Delphi and Kitsos in Greece and are dated 7,000–6,500 years ago. [21] An unusual fossil of a heel bone found in Azykh Cave, in Nagorno-Karabakh, dates to the Middle Pleistocene and is described as probably belonging to the golden jackal, but its classification is not clear. The fossil is described as being slightly smaller and thinner than the cave lynx, similar to the fox, but too large, and similar to the wolf, but too small. As the golden jackal falls between these two in size, the fossil possibly belongs to a golden jackal. [19] The absence of clearly identified golden jackal fossils in the Caucasus region and Transcaucasia, areas where the species currently resides, indicates that the species is a relatively recent arrival. [22]

A haplotype is a group of genes found in an organism that is inherited from one of its parents. [23] [24] A haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a single mutation inherited from their common ancestor. [9] The mDNA haplotypes of the golden jackal form two haplogroups: the oldest haplogroup is formed by golden jackals from India, and the other, younger, haplogroup diverging from this includes golden jackals from all of the other regions. [25] Indian golden jackals exhibit the highest genetic diversity, and those from northern and western India are the most basal, which indicates that India was the center from which golden jackals spread. The extant golden jackal lineage commenced expanding its population in India 37,000 years ago. During the Last Glacial Maximum, 25,000 to 18,000 years ago, the warmer regions of India and Southeast Asia provided a refuge from colder surrounding areas. At the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and the beginning of the warming cycles, the golden jackal lineage expanded out of India and into Eurasia to reach the Middle East and Europe. [26]

Outside of India, golden jackals in the Caucasus and Turkey demonstrate the next highest genetic diversity, [25] while those in Europe indicate low genetic diversity, [27] [28] confirming their more recent expansion into Europe. [29] Genetic data indicates that the golden jackals of the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece and the Dalmatian coast in Croatia may represent two ancient European populations from 6,000 years ago that have survived into modern times. Jackals were absent from most of Europe until the 19th century, when they started to expand slowly. Jackals were recorded in Hungary with the nearest population known at that time being found in Dalmatia, some 300 kilometers away. This was followed by rapid expansion of jackals towards the end of the 20th century. Golden jackals from both Southeast Europe and the Caucasus are expanding into the Baltic. In the Middle East, golden jackals from Israel have a higher genetic diversity than European jackals. This is thought to be due to Israeli jackals having hybridized with dogs, gray wolves, and African golden wolves, [29] creating a hybrid zone in Israel. [14]

Admixture with other Canis species Edit

Genetic analysis reveals that mating sometimes occurs between female jackals and gray wolves, producing jackal-wolf hybrids that experts cannot visually distinguish from wolves. [30] [31] Hybridization also occurs between female golden jackals and male dogs, which produces fertile offspring, [32] a jackal – dog hybrid. There was 11–13% of ancient gene flow into the golden jackal from the population that was ancestral to wolves and dogs, and an additional 3% from extant wolf populations. [33] [34] Up to 15% of the Israeli wolf genome is derived from admixture with golden jackals in ancient times. [33]

In 2018, whole genome sequencing was used to compare members of the genus Canis. The study supports the African golden wolf being distinct from the golden jackal, and with the Ethiopian wolf being genetically basal to both. There is evidence of gene flow between African golden wolves, golden jackals, and gray wolves. One African golden wolf from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula showed high admixture with the Middle Eastern gray wolves and dogs, highlighting the role of the land bridge between the African and Eurasian continents in canid evolution. There was evidence of gene flow between golden jackals and Middle Eastern wolves, less so with European and Asian wolves, and least with North American wolves. The study proposes that the golden jackal ancestry found in North American wolves may have occurred before the divergence of the Eurasian and North American wolves. [35]

Subspecies and populations Edit

The golden jackal was taxonomically subordinated to the genus Canis by the Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in his 1758 publication Systema Naturae. [2] 13 subspecies were described since then. [36]

Linnaeus, 1758 [2] Large, with soft, pale fur with predominantly sandy tones. [38] The general color of the outer fur is usually black and white, while the underfur varies from pale brown to pale slate-gray. Occasionally, the nape and shoulders are of a buff color. The ears and front legs are buff, sometimes tan, while the feet are pale. The hind legs are more deeply tinted above the hocks. The chin and forethroat are usually whitish. Weight varies geographically, ranging around 8–10 kg (18–22 lb). In areas where it borders the range of the larger, more richly colored Indian jackal (particularly the area of ​​Kumaun in India), animals of intermediate size and color sometimes appear. [39] Middle East, Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Western India where its distribution overlaps with the Indian jackal to the north and the Sri Lankan / South Indian jackal to the south. [39]

hadramauticus (Noack, 1896)
kola (Wroughton, 1916)
lanka (Wroughton, 1916)
typicus (Kolenati, 1858)
vulgaris (Wagner, 1841)

I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1835 [54] The largest golden jackal subspecies, animals of both sexes average 120–125 cm (47–49 in) in total length and 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) in body weight. [22] [55] The fur is coarse, and is generally brightly colored with blackish tones on the back. The thighs, upper legs, ears and forehead are bright-reddish chestnut. [38] Southeastern Europe, Moldova, Asia Minor and the Caucasus [38]

graecus (Wagner, 1841) balcanicus (Brusina, 1892)
caucasian (Kolenati, 1858)
dalmatinus (Wagner, 1841)

The golden jackal is similar to the gray wolf but is distinguished by its smaller size, lighter weight, more elongated torso, less-prominent forehead, shorter legs and tail, and a muzzle that is narrower and more pointed. [63] The legs are long in relation to its body, and the feet are slender with small pads. [64] Males measure 71–85 cm (28–33 in) in body length and females 69–73 cm (27–29 in). Males weigh 6–14 kg (13–31 lb) and females weigh 7–11 kg (15–24 lb). The shoulder height is 45–50 cm (18–20 in) for both. [63] In comparison, the smallest wolf is the Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs), which weighs on average 20 kg (44 lb). [65]

The skull is most like that of the dingo, and is closer to that of the coyote (C. latrans) and the gray wolf (C. lupus) than to that of the black-backed jackal (C. mesomalas), the side-striped jackal (C. adustus), and the Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis). [66] Compared with the wolf, the skull of the golden jackal is smaller and less massive, with a lower nasal region and shorter facial region the projections of the skull are prominent but weaker than those of the wolf the canine teeth are large and strong but relatively thinner and its carnassial teeth are weaker. [63] The golden jackal is a less specialized species than the gray wolf, and these skull features relate to the jackal's diet of small birds, rodents, small vertebrates, insects, carrion, [67] fruit, and some vegetable matter. [66] Occasionally, the golden jackal develops a horny growth on the skull referred to as a "jackal's horn", which usually measures 1.3 cm (0.51 in) in length and is concealed by fur. This feature was once associated with magical powers by the people of Sri Lanka. [68]

The jackal's fur is coarse and relatively short, [66] with the base color golden, varying seasonally from a pale creamy yellow to a dark tawny. The fur on the back is composed of a mixture of black, brown, and white hairs, sometimes giving the appearance of the dark saddle like that seen on the black-backed jackal. The underparts are a light pale ginger to cream color. Individual specimens can be distinguished by their unique light markings on the throat and chest. [64] The coats of jackals from high elevations tend to be more buff-colored than those of their lowland counterparts [52] while those of jackals in rocky, mountainous areas may exhibit a grayer shade. The bushy tail has a tan to black tip. [64] Melanism can cause a dark-colored coat in some golden jackals, a coloring once fairly common in Bengal. [69] Unlike melanistic wolves and coyotes that received their dark pigmentation from interbreeding with domestic dogs, melanism in golden jackals probably stems from an independent mutation that could be an adaptive trait. [70] What is possibly an albino specimen was photographed in southeastern Iran during 2012. [71]

The jackal moults twice a year, in spring and in autumn. In Transcaucasia and Tajikistan, the spring moult begins at the end of winter. If the winter has been warm, the spring moult starts in the middle of February if the winter has been cold, it begins in the middle of March. The spring moult lasts for 60–65 days if the animal is sick, it loses only half of its winter fur. The spring moult commences with the head and limbs, extends to the flanks, chest, belly and rump, and ends at the tail. Fur on the underparts is absent. The autumn moult occurs from mid-September with the growth of winter fur the shedding of the summer fur occurs at the same time. The development of the autumn coat starts with the rump and tail and spreads to the back, flanks, belly, chest, limbs and head, with full winter fur being attained at the end of November. [72]

Distribution and habitat Edit

In South Asia the golden jackal inhabits Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, [36] India, Nepal and Bhutan. [64] In Central Asia it inhabits Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. [36] There have been two reported sightings from Cambodia, three from southern Laos, and two from Vietnam - each sighting made only in lowland, open deciduous forest, and no specimens were presented. [73] In Southwestern Asia it inhabits Iran, [36] Iraq, [36] Israel, [36] Jordan, [36] Kuwait, [64] Lebanon, [36] Oman, [36] Saudi Arabia, [36] Qatar , [64] Syria, [36] Turkey, [36] United Arab Emirates, [36] and Yemen. [36] In Europe it inhabits Albania, [36] Armenia, [74] Austria, [64] Azerbaijan, [74] Bosnia and Herzegovina, [75] Bulgaria, [64] Croatia, [36] Estonia, [76] Georgia , [74] Greece, [36] Hungary, [76] Italy, [36] Kosovo, [74] Latvia, [76] Lithuania, [76] Macedonia, [36] Moldova, [74] Montenegro, [74] Poland , [76] Romania, [76] the Russian Federation, [74] Serbia, [76] Slovakia, [77] Slovenia, [36] Switzerland, [78] [76] Turkey, [36] and the Ukraine. [76] It has been sighted in Belarus, [74] the Czech Republic, [79] and Germany.[76] It was first recorded in Denmark in 2015, likely a natural migrant from further south, and the species has since been confirmed from several locations in Jutland. [80] [81] [82] It has been reported in the media in the Netherlands but it is unclear if this jackal was an escapee from a private zoo. [83] In July 2019, golden jackal was sighted in Eastern Finland, about 100 kilometers from the Russian border, [84] and subsequently evidence was discovered of an earlier 2018 sighting near Kajaani in Central Finland. [85] In 2020, one individual was recorded by a camera trap in northern Norway, making it the northernmost sighting of the species so far. [86]

The golden jackal's omnivorous diet allows it to eat a large range of foods this diet, together with its tolerance of dry conditions, enables it to live in different habitats. The jackal's long legs and lithe body allow it to trot over great distances in search of food. It is able to go without water for extended periods and has been observed on islands that have no fresh water. [64] Jackals are abundant in valleys and along rivers and their tributaries, canals, lakes, and seashores, but are rare in foothills and low mountains. In Central Asia they avoid waterless deserts and cannot be found in the Karakum Desert nor the Kyzylkum Desert, but can be found at their edges or in oases. [87] On the other hand, in India they can be found living in the Thar Desert. [1] They are found in dense thickets of prickly bushes, reed flood-lands and forests. They have been known to ascend over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) up the slopes of the Himalayas they can withstand temperatures as low as −25 ° C (−13 ° F) and sometimes −35 ° C (−31 ° F). They are not adapted to snow, and in snow country they must travel along paths made by larger animals or humans. In India, they will occupy the surrounding foothills above arable areas, [87] entering human settlements at night to feed on garbage, and have established themselves around hill stations at 2,000 m (6,600 ft) height above mean sea level. [64] They generally avoid mountainous forests, but may enter alpine and sub-alpine areas during dispersal. In Turkey, the Caucasus, and Transcaucasia they have been observed up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above mean sea level, particularly in areas where the climate supports shrublands in high elevations. [22]

Diet Edit

The golden jackal fills much the same ecological niche in Eurasia as the coyote does in North America [88] it is both a predator and a scavenger, [89] and an omnivorous and opportunistic forager with a diet that varies according to its habitat and the season. In Keoladeo National Park, India, over 60% of its diet was measured to consist of rodents, birds, and fruit. In the Kanha Tiger Reserve, 80% of its diet consists of rodents, reptiles and fruit. Vegetable matter forms part of the jackal diet, and in India they feed intensively on the fruits of buckthorn, dogbane, Java plum, and the pods of mesquite and the golden rain tree. The jackal scavenges off the kills made by the lion, tiger, leopard, dhole, and gray wolf. In some regions of Bangladesh and India, golden jackals subsist by scavenging on carrion and garbage, and will cache extra food by burying it. [64] The Irish novelist, playwright and poet, Oliver Goldsmith, wrote about the golden jackal:

. Although the species of the wolf approaches very near to that of the dog, yet the jackal seems to be placed between them to the savage fierceness of the wolf it adds the impudent familiarity of the dog. It is more noisy in its pursuits even than the dog, and more voracious than the wolf.

In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, golden jackals primarily hunt hares and mouse-like rodents, and also pheasants, francolins, ducks, coots, moorhens, and passerines. Vegetable matter eaten by Jackals in these areas includes fruits, such as pears, hawthorn, dogwood, and the cones of common medlars. The jackal is implicated in the destruction of grape, watermelon, muskmelon, and nut crops. Near the Vakhsh River, their spring diet consists almost exclusively of plant bulbs and the roots of wild sugar cane, while during winter they feed on wild stony olives. Around the edges of the Karakum Desert, jackals feed on gerbils, lizards, snakes, fish, muskrats, the fruits of wild stony olives, mulberry, dried apricots, watermelons, muskmelons, tomatoes, and grapes. [89]

In Dalmatia, the golden jackal's diet consists of mammals, fruits, vegetables, insects, birds and their eggs, grasses and leaves. [91] Golden jackals change their diet to more readily available foods. In Serbia, their diet is primarily livestock carcasses that are increasingly prevalent due to a lack of removal, and this may have led to the expansion of their population. [92] In Hungary, 55% of their diet is composed of common voles and bank voles, and 41% is composed of wild boar carcasses. [93] Information on the diet of the golden jackal in northeastern Italy is scant, but it is known to prey on small roe deer and hares. [22] In Israel, golden jackals are significant predators of snakes during a poisoning campaign against golden jackals there was an increase in human snakebite reports, but a decrease when the poisoning ceased. [94]

Behavior Edit

Social behavior Edit

Golden jackals exhibit flexible social organization depending on the availability of food. The breeding pair is the basic social unit, and they are sometimes accompanied by their current litter of pups. In India, their distributions are a single jackal, 31%, two jackals, 35%, three jackals, 14%, and more than three jackals, 20%. [64] Family groups of up to 4–5 individuals have been recorded. [95] Scent marking through urination and defecation is common around golden jackal den areas and on the trails they most often use. Scent marking is thought to assist in territorial defense. The hunting ranges of several jackals can overlap. Jackals can travel up to 12–15 km (7.5–9.3 mi) during a single night in search of either food or more suitable habitat. Non-breeding members of a pack may stay near a distant food source, such as a carcass, for up to several days before returning to their home range. Home range sizes can vary between 1–20 km 2 (0.39–7.72 sq mi), depending on the available food. [64]

Social interactions such as greetings, grooming, and group howling are common in jackals. Howling is more frequent between December and April when pair bonds are being formed and breeding occurs, which suggests howling has a role in the delineation of territory and for defense. [64] Adult jackals howl standing and the young or subordinate jackals howl sitting. [96] Jackals are easily induced to howl and a single howl may solicit replies from several jackals in the vicinity. Howling begins with 2–3 low-pitched calls that rise to high-pitched calls. [64] The howl consists of a wail repeated 3–4 times on an ascending scale, followed by three short yelps. [58] Jackals typically howl at dawn and in the evening, and sometimes at midday. Adults may howl to accompany the ringing of church bells, with their young responding to sirens or the whistles of steam engines and boats. [97] Social canids such as golden jackals, wolves, and coyotes respond to human imitations of their howls. [98] When there is a change in the weather, jackals will produce a long and continuous chorus. [97] Dominant canids defend their territories against intruders with either a howl to warn them off, approach and confront them, or howl followed by an approach. Jackals, wolves and coyotes will always approach a source of howling. [99] Golden jackals give a warning call that is very different from their normal howling when they detect the presence of large carnivores such as wolves and tigers. [64] [58]

Reproduction Edit

Golden jackals are monogamous and will remain with the one partner until death. [100] Female jackals have only one breeding cycle each year. Breeding occurs from October to March in Israel and from February to March in India, Turkmenistan, [64] Bulgaria, and Transcaucasia, with the mating period lasting up to 26–28 days. Females undergoing their first estrus are often pursued by several males that may quarrel among themselves. [100] Mating results in a copulatory tie that lasts for several minutes, as it does with all other canids. Gestation lasts 63 days, and the timing of the births coincides with the annual abundance of food. [64]

In India, the golden jackal will take over the dens of the Bengal fox and the Indian crested porcupine, and will use abandoned gray wolf dens. [64] Most breeding pairs are spaced well apart and maintain a core territory around their dens. Den excavations commence from late April to May in India, with dens located in scrub areas. Rivulets, gullies, and road and check-dam embankments are prime denning habitats. Drainage pipes and culverts have been used as dens. Dens are 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) long and 0.5–1 m (1.6–3.3 ft) deep, with between 1–3 openings. Young pups can be moved between 2–4 dens. [64] The male helps with digging the den and raising the pups. [100] In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, the burrow is located either in thick shrub, on the slopes of gullies, or on flat surfaces. In Dagestan and Azerbaijan, litters are sometimes located within the hollows of fallen trees, among tree roots, and under stones on river banks. In Central Asia, the golden jackal does not dig burrows but constructs lairs in dense tugai thickets. Jackals in the tugais and cultivated lands of Tajikistan construct lairs in long grass, shrubs, and reed openings. [95]

In Transcaucasia, golden jackal pups are born from late March to late April, [100] and in northeastern Italy during late April [22] they can be born at any time of year in Nepal. [52] The number of pups born in a single litter varies geographically. Jackals in Transcaucasia give birth to 3–8 pups, Tajikistan 3–7 pups, Uzbekistan 2–8 pups, and Bulgaria 4–7 pups in India the average is four pups. [100] The pups are born with closed eyes that open after 8–11 days, with the ears erecting after 10–13 days. [72] Their teeth erupt at 11 days after birth, [64] and the eruption of adult dentition is completed after five months. Pups are born with soft fur that ranges in color from light gray to dark brown. At the age of one month, their fur is shed and replaced with a new reddish-colored pelt with black speckles. The pups have a fast growth rate and weigh 0.201–0.214 kg (0.44–0.47 lb) at two days of age, 0.560–0.726 kg (1.23–1.60 lb) at one month, and 2.700–3.250 kg (5.95–7.17 lb) at four months. [72] Females possess four pairs of teats, and lactation lasts for up to 8–10 weeks. [64] The pups begin to eat meat at the age of 15–20 days. [72]

Dog pups show unrestrained fighting with their siblings from 2 weeks of age, with injury avoided only due to their undeveloped jaw muscles. This fighting gives way to play-chasing with the development of running skills at 4–5 weeks. Wolf pups possess more-developed jaw muscles from 2 weeks of age, when they first show signs of play-fighting with their siblings serious fighting occurs during 4–6 weeks of age. [101] Compared to wolf and dog pups, golden jackal pups develop aggression at the age of 4–6 weeks, when play-fighting frequently escalates into uninhibited biting intended to harm. This aggression ceases by 10–12 weeks when a hierarchy has formed. [102] Once the lactation period concludes, the female drives off the pups. Pups born late remain with their mother until early autumn, at which time they leave either singly or in groups of two to four individuals. Females reach sexual maturity after 10–11 months and males at 21–22 months. [72]

Foraging Edit

The golden jackal often hunts alone, and sometimes in pairs, but rarely hunts in a pack. When hunting alone, it trots around an area and occasionally stops to sniff and listen. Once prey is located, the jackal conceals itself, quickly approaches its prey and then pounces on it. [97] Single jackals hunt rodents, hares, and birds. They hunt rodents in grass by locating them with their hearing before leaping into the air and pouncing on them. In India, they can dig Indian gerbils out from their burrows, and they can hunt young, old, and infirm ungulates up to 4–5 times their body weight. Jackals search for hiding blackbuck calves throughout the day during the calving period. The peak times for their searches are the early morning and the late evening. When hunting in pairs or packs, jackals run parallel to their prey and overtake it in unison. When hunting aquatic rodents or birds, they will run along both sides of narrow rivers or streams and drive their prey from one jackal to another. [97]

Pack-hunting of langurs is recorded in India. Packs of between 5 and 18 jackals scavenging on the carcasses of large ungulates is recorded in India and Israel. [64] Packs of 8–12 jackals consisting of more than one family have been observed in the summer periods in Transcaucasia. [97] In India, the Montagu's harrier and the Pallid harrier roost in their hundreds in grasslands during their winter migration. Jackals stalk close to these roosting harriers and then rush at them, attempting to catch one before the harriers can take off or gain sufficient height to escape. [64]

Cooperation Edit

In Southeastern Asia, golden jackals have been known to hunt alongside dhole packs. [42] They have been observed in the Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar, India, following Indian wolves (Canis lupus pallipes) when these are on a hunt, and they will scavenge off wolf kills without any hostility shown from the wolves. [64] In India, lone jackals expelled from their pack have been known to form commensal relationships with tigers. These solitary jackals, known as kol-bahl, will associate themselves with a particular tiger, trailing it at a safe distance to feed on the big cat's kills. TO kol-bahl will even alert a tiger to prey with a loud "pheal". Tigers have been known to tolerate these jackals, with one report describing how a jackal confidently walked in and out between three tigers walking together. [103] [104] Golden jackals and wild boar can occupy the same territory. [55]

Competition Edit

The jackal's competitors are the red fox, wolf, jungle cat, wildcat, and raccoon in the Caucasus, and the steppe wildcat in Central Asia. [72] Wolves dominate jackals, and jackals dominate foxes. [55] In 2017 in Iran, an Indian wolf under study killed a golden jackal. [105] In Europe, the range of wolves and jackals is mutually exclusive, with jackals abandoning their territory with the arrival of a wolf pack. One experiment used loudspeakers to broadcast the calls of jackals, and this attracted wolves at a trotting pace to chase away the perceived competitors. Dogs responded to these calls in the same way while barking aggressively. Unleashed dogs have been observed to immediately chase away jackals when the jackals were detected. [55] In Europe, there are an estimated 12,000 wolves. The jackal's recent expansion throughout eastern and western Europe has been attributed to the extermination of the local wolf populations. The present diffusion of the jackal into the northern Adriatic hinterland is in areas where the wolf is absent or very rare. [76] [96] In the past, jackals competed with tigers and leopards, feeding on the remains of their kills and, in one case, on a dead tiger. Leopards and tigers once hunted jackals, but today, the leopard is rare, and the tiger is extinct in the jackal's range. [72] Eurasian lynxes have also been known to hunt jackals. [106]

Red foxes and golden jackals share similar diets. Red foxes fear jackals, which are three times bigger than red foxes. Red foxes will avoid close proximity to jackals and fox populations decrease where jackals are abundant. [107] Foxes can be found only at the fringes of jackal territory. [55] Striped hyenas prey on golden jackals, and three jackal carcasses were found in one hyena den. [64]

Some golden jackals carry diseases and parasites harmful to human health. These include rabies, and Donovan's Leishmania that is harmless to jackals but may cause leishmaniasis in people. Jackals in southwestern Tajikistan can carry up to 16 species of parasitic cestodes (flatworm), roundworms, and acanthocephalans (thorny-headed worms), these are: Sparganum mansoni, Diphyllobothrium mansonoides, Taenia hydatigena, T. pisiformis, T. ovis, Hydatigera taeniaeformis, Dipylidium caninum, Mesocestoides lineatus, Ancylostoma caninum, Uncinaria stenocephala, Renal dioctophyma, Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, Dracunculus medinensis, Filariate and Macracanthorhynchus catulinum. Jackals infected with Dracunculus medinensis can infect bodies of water with their eggs, which cause dracunculiasis in people who drink from them. Jackals may also play a large part in spreading coenurosis in sheep and cattle, and canine distemper in dogs. In Tajikistan, jackals may carry up to 12 tick species (which include Ixodes, Rhipicephalus turanicus, R. leporis, R. rossicus, R. sanguineus, R. pumilio, R. schulzei, Hyalomma anatolicum, H. scupense and H. asiaticum), four flea species (Pulex irritans, Xenopsylla nesokiae, Ctenocephanlides canis and C. felis), and one species of louse (Trichodectes canis). [108]

In Iran, some golden jackals carry intestinal worms (helminths) [109] and Echinococcus granulosus. [110] In Israel, some jackals are infected with intestinal helminths [111] and Leishmania tropica. [112] In Romania, a jackal was found to be carrying Trichinella britovi. [113] In northeastern Italy, the jackal is a carrier of the tick species Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus, and the smallest human fluke Metagonimus yokogawai that can be caught from ingesting infected raw fish. [114] In Hungary, some jackals carry dog ​​heartworm Dirofilaria immitis, [115] and some have provided the first record in Hungary of Trichinella spiralis and the first record in Europe of Echinococcus multilocularis. The jackal is dispersing across Europe through rivers and valleys, bringing parasites into regions where these did not previously exist. [110]

The golden jackal is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List due to its widespread distribution, with it being common throughout its range and with high densities in those areas where food and shelter are abundant. [1] In Europe, golden jackals are not listed under the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora nor the 1979 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. Golden jackals in Europe fall under various international legal instruments. These include the 1979 Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, and the 1992 European Union Council Directive 92/43 / EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Council Directive provides both guidance and limits on what participating governments can do when responding to the arrival of expanding jackals. These legislative instruments aim to contribute to conserving native wildlife some governments argue that the golden jackal is not native wildlife but an invading species. [74] The Golden Jackal informal study Group in Europe (GOJAGE) is an organization that is formed by researchers from across Europe to collect and share information on the golden jackal in Europe. The group also has an interest in the golden jackal's relationship with its environment across Eurasia. Membership is open to anyone who has an interest in golden jackals. [116]

In Europe, there are an estimated 70,000 golden jackals. [76] They are fully protected in Albania, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, and Switzerland. They are unprotected in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, [75] Czech Republic, Estonia, and Greece. They are hunted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, [75] Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. Their protection in Austria and Turkey depends on the part of the country. Their status in Moldova is not known. [74]

The Syrian jackal was common in Israel and Lebanon in the 1930s – 40s, but their populations were reduced during an anti-rabies campaign. Its current status is difficult to ascertain, due to possible hybridization with pariah dogs and African golden wolves. [14] [62] The jackal population for the Indian subcontinent is estimated to be over 80,000. [1] In India, the golden jackal occurs in all of India's protected areas apart from those in the higher areas of the Himalayas. It is included in CITES Appendix III, and is listed in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, under Schedule III, thus receiving legal protection at the lowest level to help control the trade of pelts and tails in India. [1]

In folklore, mythology and literature Edit

Golden jackals appear in Indian folklore and in two ancient texts, the Jakatas and the Panchatantra, where they are portrayed as intelligent and wily creatures. [64] The ancient Hindu text, the Mahabharata, tells the story of a learned jackal who sets his friends the tiger, wolf, mongoose, and mouse against each other so he can eat a gazelle without sharing it. The Panchatantra tells the fable of a jackal who cheats a wolf and a lion out of their shares of a camel. [117] In Buddhist tales, the jackal is regarded as being cunning in a way similar to the fox in European tales. [118] One popular Indian saying describes the jackal as "the sharpest among beasts, the crow among birds, and the barber among men". For a person embarking on an early morning journey, hearing a jackal howl was considered to be a sign of impending good fortune, as was seeing a jackal crossing a road from the left side. [119]

In Hinduism, the jackal is portrayed as the familiar of several deities with the most common being Chamunda, the emaciated, devouring goddess of the cremation grounds. Another deity associated with jackals is Kali, who inhabits the cremation ground and is surrounded by millions of jackals. According to the Tantrasara scripture, when offered animal flesh, Kali appears in the form of a jackal. The goddess Shivaduti is depicted with a jackal's head. [118] The goddess Durga was often linked to the jackal. Jackals are considered to be the vahanas (vehicles) of various protective Hindu and Buddhist deities, particularly in Tibet. [120] According to the flood myth of the Kamar people in Raipur district, India, the god Mahadeo (Shiva) caused a deluge to dispose of a jackal who had offended him. [121] In Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli stories collected in The Jungle Book, the character Tabaqui is a jackal despised by the Seeonee wolf pack due to his mock cordiality, his scavenging habits, and his subservience to Shere Khan the tiger. [122]

Attacks on humans Edit

In the Marwahi forest division of the Chhattisgarh state in eastern India, the jackal is of conservation value and there were no jackal attacks reported before 1997. During 1998–2005 there were 220 reported cases of jackal attacks on humans, although none were fatal. The majority of these attacks occurred in villages, followed by forests and crop fields. Jackals build their dens in the bouldery hillocks that surround flat areas, and these areas have been encroached by human agriculture and settlements. This encroachment has led to habitat fragmentation and the need for jackals to enter agricultural areas and villages in search for food, resulting in conflict with humans. People in this region habitually chase jackals from their villages, which leads to the jackals becoming aggressive. Female jackals with pups respond with an attack more often than lone males. In comparison, over twice as many attacks were carried out by Sloth bears over the same period. [123] There are no known attacks on humans in Europe. [29]

Livestock, game, and crop predation Edit

The golden jackal can be a harmful pest that attacks domestic animals such as turkeys, lambs, sheep, goats, domestic water buffalo calves, and valuable game species like newborn roe deer, hares, coypu, pheasants, francolins, gray partridges, bustards and waterfowl . [124] It destroys grape, coffee, maize, sugarcane, [64] and eats watermelons, muskmelons, and nuts. [124] In Greece, golden jackals are not as damaging to livestock as wolves and red foxes but they can become a serious nuisance to small stock when in great numbers. In southern Bulgaria, over 1,000 attacks on sheep and lambs were recorded between 1982 and 1987, along with some damage to newborn deer in game farms. The damage by jackals in Bulgaria was minimal when compared to the livestock losses due to wolves. [55] Approximately 1.5–1.9% of calves born in the Golan Heights die due to predation, mainly by jackals. [125] The high predation rate by jackals in both Bulgaria and Israel is attributable to the lack of preventative measures in those countries and the availability of food in illegal garbage dumps, leading to jackal population explosions. [55]

Golden jackals are extremely harmful to fur-bearing rodents, such as coypu and muskrats. Coypu can be completely extirpated in shallow water bodies. During 1948–1949 in the Amu Darya, muskrats constituted 12.3% of jackal fecal contents, and 71% of muskrat houses were destroyed by jackals. Jackals also harm the fur industry by eating muskrats caught in traps or taking skins left out to dry. [124]

Hunting Edit

During British rule in India, sportsmen conducted golden jackal hunting on horseback with hounds, with jackal coursing a substitute for the fox hunting of their native England. They were not considered as beautiful as English red foxes, but were esteemed for their endurance in the chase with one pursuit lasting 3 1 ⁄2 hours. India's weather and terrain added further challenges to jackal hunters that were not present in England: the hounds of India were rarely in as good condition as English hounds, and although the golden jackal has a strong odor, the terrain of northern India was not good in retaining scent. [126] Also, unlike foxes, jackals sometimes feigned death when caught and could be ferociously protective of their captured packmates. [69]

Jackals were hunted in three ways: with greyhounds, with foxhounds, and with mixed packs. Hunting jackals with greyhounds offered poor sport because greyhounds were too fast for jackals, and mixed packs were too difficult to control. [126] From 1946 in Iraq, British diplomats and Iraqi riders conducted jackal coursing together. They distinguished three types of jackal: the "city scavenger", which was described as being slow and so smelly that dogs did not like to follow them the "village jack", which was described as being faster, more alert, and less odorous and the "open-country jack", which was described as being the fastest, cleanest, and providing the best sport of all three populations. [127]

Some indigenous people of India, such as the Kolis and Vaghirs of Gujarat and Rajasthan and the Narikuravas in Tamil Nadu, hunt and eat golden jackals, but the majority of South Asian cultures consider the animal to be unclean. The orthodox dharma texts forbid the eating of jackals because they have five nails. [118] In the area of ​​the former Soviet Union, jackals are not actively hunted and are usually captured only incidentally during the hunting of other animals by means of traps or shooting during drives. In Transcaucasia, jackals are captured with large fishing hooks baited with meat and suspended 75–100 cm (30–39 in) from the ground with wire. The jackals can only reach the meat by jumping, and are then hooked by the lip or jaw. [124]

Fur use Edit

In Russia and the other nations of the former Soviet Union, golden jackals are considered furbearers of low quality because of their sparse, coarse, and monotonously colored fur. [124] Jackal hairs have very little fur fiber therefore, their pelts have a flat appearance. The jackals of Asia and the Middle East produce the coarsest pelts, though this can be remedied during the dressing process. Elburz in northern Iran produces the softest furs. [128] Jackal skins are not graded to a fur standard, and are made into collars, women's coats, and fur coats. During the 1880s, 200 jackals were captured annually in Mervsk and in the Zakatal area of ​​the Transcaucasus, with 300 jackals being captured there during 1896. In this same period, a total of 10,000 jackals were taken within Russia and their furs sent exclusively to the Nizhegorod fair. In the early 1930s there were 20,000–25,000 jackal skins tanned annually in the Soviet Union, but these could not be utilized within the country, and so the majority were exported to the United States. Commencing from 1949, they were all used within the Soviet Union. [124]

Sulimov dog Edit

The golden jackal may have once been tamed in Neolithic Turkey 11,000 years ago, as there is a sculpture of a man cradling a jackal found in Göbekli Tepe. [129] French explorers during the 19th century noted that people in the Levant kept golden jackals in their homes. [130] The Kalmyk people near the Caspian Sea were known to frequently cross their dogs with jackals, [130] and Balkan shepherds once crossed their sheepdogs with jackals. [22]

The Russian military established the Red Star kennels in 1924 to improve the performance of working dogs and to conduct military dog ​​research. The Red Star kennel developed "Laikoid" dogs, which were a cross-breed of Spitz-type Russian Laikas with German Shepherds. By the 1980s, the ability of Russia's bomb and narcotic detection dogs were assessed as being inadequate. Klim Sulimov, a research scientist with the DS Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection, began cross-breeding dogs with their wild relatives in an attempt to improve their scent-detection abilities. The researchers assumed that during domestication dogs had lost some of their scent-detection ability because they no longer had to detect prey. Sulimov crossed European jackals with Laikas, and also with fox terriers to add trainability and loyalty to the mix. He used the jackal because he believed that it was the wild ancestor of the dog, that it had superior scent-detecting ability, and, because it was smaller with more endurance than the dog, it could be housed outdoors in the Russian climate. Sulimov favored a mix of one quarter jackal and three-quarters dog. Sulimov's program continues today with the use of the hybrid Sulimov dogs at the Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow by the Russian airline Aeroflot. [131]

The hybrid program has been criticized, with one of Sulimov's colleagues pointing out that in other tests the Laika performed just as well as the jackal hybrids. The assumption that dogs have lost some of their scent-detection ability may be incorrect, in that dogs need to be able to scent-detect and identify the many humans that they come into contact with in their domesticated environment. Another researcher crossed German Shepherds with wolves and claimed that this hybrid had superior scent-detection abilities. The scientific evidence to support the claims of hybrid researchers is minimal, and more research has been called for. [131]

The word 'jackal' appeared in the English language around 1600. It derives from the Turkish word çakal, which originates from the Persian word šagāl. [132] It is also known as the "common jackal", the "Asiatic jackal", [64] [1] and the "Eurasian golden jackal". [14]


Index

Its coat is made up of a mixture of black and white hair, with brown shoulders, ears and legs. Specimens living at higher altitudes tend to take on more pronounced brown tones. Black hair predominates in the center of the back and on the tail. The belly, chin and sides of the legs are creamy white, while the face and the lower part of the flanks are grizzled with gray hair [3]. It generally has a more colorful coat than the common jackal: the light areas of the back are light brown and not whitish or silver [4]. Black specimens have also been sighted in Bengal [5]. Adults are slightly larger than common jackals [4] and can reach a length of 100 cm, a height of 35–45 cm and a weight of 8–11 kg [3].

It lives mainly in the plains, on the outskirts of towns, villages and farms, where it finds refuge in the hollows among the ruins or in the dense bush. Except in the warm season, the Indian jackal leaves its lair only at sunset and returns there at dawn. Although he is predominantly a scavenger who feeds on waste and leftovers, he can supplement his diet with rodents, reptiles, fruit and insects. When hunting small deer and antelope it gathers in small groups [3]. Although it sometimes kills poultry, kids and lambs, it is completely harmless to humans. When wild prey is scarce, it begins to feed on plant matter, such as maize and jujube fruits [6]. It causes serious damage to vineyards in western India and in the Wayanad District it feeds on large quantities of coffee beans [5].

Lone jackals expelled from the pack form commensal relationships with tigers. These solitary jackals are known as kol-bahl [7] , bhálú in southern India, phéall, phao, pheeow or phnew in Bengal e ghog in other regions [5]. They attach themselves to a particular tiger, following it at a safe distance in order to feed on the prey killed by the big cat. A kol-bahl it can even warn a tiger of the presence of prey by emitting a loud call that resonates like a pheal. Tigers tolerate these jackals: in one known case a jackal walked confidentially back and forth between three tigers walking together within a few meters of each other [7].

With the leopard the relationship is completely different: leopards kill and eat jackals [8] as soon as they can, so the canid stays at a safe distance. Wolves [9] and striped hyenas [10] also kill jackals, while it seems that the cuon do not consider them.

The golden jackal is well present in Indian and Nepalese folklore, where it often occupies the role of cheater that is taken by the red fox in Europe and North America. In the story of the Blue Jackal, for example, this animal is tinged with blue like Neelaakanth, the guardian of all animals, and forces other animals to provide him with food, so that he can continue to protect them. It is eventually chased away when the monsoon waters wash off the paint [11] [12] [13]. In some tales the jackals are portrayed as malevolent and treacherous animals. In Mahābhārata the story is told of a jackal who pits his friends, the tiger, the wolf, the mongoose and the mouse, against each other, so that he can eat a gazelle without having to share it [14]. In Hinduism, the same name Shiva means jackal and this animal is often represented as the consort of Kālī. Jackals are i vahana (mounts) of various Hindu and Buddhist deities, especially in Tibetan folklore. Durgā is often associated with the jackal [15].

In Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli Stories, collected in The Jungle Book, Tabaqui is a jackal despised by Sehonee's wolf pack due to his feigned friendliness, necrophagous habits, and his subservience to Shere Khan. It appears at the beginning of the book, when he visits Mowgli's adoptive parents, Mum and Father Wolf they are very annoyed by his presence, as Tabaqui announces to them that Shere Khan, the tiger, is hunting in their territory. Tabaqui is later killed by one of Mowgli's "brothers", Gray Brother, who breaks his back.


Contents

  • 1 Etymology and naming
    • 1.1 Local and indigenous names
  • 2 Taxonomy and evolution
    • 2.1 Subspecies
  • 3 Physical description
  • 4 Behavior
    • 4.1 Social and territorial behaviors
    • 4.2 Reproduction and development
    • 4.3 Denning and sheltering behaviors
    • 4.4 Hunting and feeding behavior
  • 5 Ecology
    • 5.1 Habitat
    • 5.2 Diet
    • 5.3 Enemies and competitors
  • 6 Communication
  • 7 Range and conservation
  • 8 Diseases and parasites
  • 9 Relationships with humans
    • 9.1 In folklore, mythology and literature
    • 9.2 Livestock, game and crop predation
    • 9.3 Hunting
    • 9.4 Fur use
    • 9.5 In captivity
    • 9.6 Attacks on humans
  • 10 See also
  • 11 Footnotes
  • 12 References
  • 13 Bibliography
  • 14 External links

Local and indigenous names Edit

Indigenous names for Canis aureus
Linguistic group or area Indigenous name
Albanian Cakalli [ 1 ]
Amharic ተረ ቀበሮ (tera kebero) [ 1 ]
Arabic ابن آوى (Ibn awee) [ 1 ]
ذئب (deeb) [9] [10] [a]
أبو سليما (abu soliman) [ 9 ]
حسیني (husseini) [ 10 ]
واوي (wawi) [ 10 ]
Balochi Tulag [ 12 ]
Bhotia Amu [ 13 ]
Nao-han [ 14 ]
Bulgarian Златист чакал (zlatist chakal) [ citation needed ]
Burmese Myae-khawae [ 13 ]
Toung-khwe [ 14 ]
Rhwea [ 14 ]
Chin Quay-at [ 14 ]
Czech Šakal obecný [ 1 ]
Friulian Coiòte [ 15 ]
Fula Sundu [ 1 ]
German Goldschakal [ 1 ]
Rohrwolf [ 15 ]
Gondi Nerka [ 13 ]
Greek Τσακάλι (tsakali) [ 16 ]
Hausa Over there [ 1 ]
Hebrew תן (tan) [ 17 ]
Hindi Gheedhur [ 13 ]
Giddhad [ 1 ]
Hungarian Aranysakál [ 1 ]
Nádi farkas [ 18 ]
Toportyánféreg [ 18 ]
Italian Golden jackal [ 1 ] [ 15 ]
Kannada Nari [ 13 ]
Nuree [ 1 ]
Kashmiri Gidah [ 14 ]
Shial [ 14 ]
Shal [ 14 ]
Khandeshi Neru-koela [ 19 ]
Kurdish Chaghal [ 12 ]
Marathi Kolha [ 1 ]
Mazanderani شال (shaal) [ 12 ]
Nepali / Bengali / Gujarati / Kutchi Shiyal [ 1 ]
Persian شغال (shogâl) [ 20 ]
Romanian Șakal [ 1 ]
Sanskrit Srigala [ 13 ]
Shan Mania [ 14 ]
Sinhala Nariya [ 1 ]
Hiwala [ 21 ]
Slovenian Šakal [ 1 ]
Mali volk [ 22 ]
Somali dawaco/dayo/dawaca [ citation needed ]
Songhai Nzongo [ 1 ]
Swahili (standard)
Swahili (Tanzania)
Bweha wa mbuga [ 1 ] [ 23 ]
Bweha dhahabu [ 1 ]
Tamil Peria naree [ 1 ]
Kulla narie [ 21 ]
Telugu Naka [ 13 ]
Thai สุนัข จิ้งจอก (soo-nák jîng-jòk) [ citation needed ]
Turkish Çakal [ 16 ]
Venetian Sciacàl [ 15 ]
Vietnamese Chó rừng lông vàng [ citation needed ]
Wolof Tili [ 1 ]

The earliest fossil carnivores that can be linked with some certainty to canids are the Eocene Miacids, which lived some 38 to 56 million years ago. The Miacids later diverged into caniforms and feliforms, with the former line leading to such genera as the coyote-sized Mesocyon of the Oligocene (38 to 24 million years ago), the fox-like Leptocyon and the wolf-like Tomarctus which inhabited North America some 10 million years ago. [24] The golden jackal is scantily represented in the fossil record, and its direct ancestor is unknown two previous candidates, Canis kuruksaensis and C. arnensis (from Villafranchian Tajikistan and Italy respectively), were demonstrated to be more closely related to the coyote than the jackal. [15] [25] Jackal-like fossils appear in South Africa up to the Early Pleistocene, though remains identifiable as the golden jackal only appear beginning in the Middle Pleistocene. The absence of jackal fossils in Europe, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, areas where the species currently resides, indicates that the species is a relatively recent arrival. However, its presence in the Balkan peninsula is probably quite ancient, as fossil finds in Croatia indicate that the species has been established in the Dalmatian Coast since the Late Pleistocene or early Holocene. The jackal likely entered the Balkans during the last glacial maximum through a land bridge on the Bosphorus. [5]

The golden jackal is the most typical member of the genus Canis, being of medium size and having no outstanding features. [26] Though less basal than the black-backed and side-striped jackals, [27] it is nonetheless a somewhat less specialized species than the gray wolf, as indicated by its relatively short facial region, weaker tooth row and the more weakly developed projections of the skull. These features are connected to the jackal's diet of small birds, rodents, small vertebrates, insects and carrion. [28] The characteristics of the golden jackal's skull [26] and genetic composition [29] indicate a closer affinity to the gray wolf and coyote than to the black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal and Ethiopian wolf. A recent study [30] found that the Golden Jackal and the ancestor of the wolf / dog diverged 400,000 years ago, and that since then there had been significant gene flow between the Golden Jackal and the Israeli wolf, as well as the population ancestral to the dog and wolf samples.

Golden jackal [6] (Fig. 10)

In captivity, the golden jackal is capable of hybridizing with the coyote, though such hybrids become infertile at the second generation. In contrast, the golden jackal appears to have unlimited fertility with dogs and wolves. [5] The Sulimov dog (see below) is an example of such a hybrid, as are jackal-wolf hybrids. Although hybridization between golden jackals and gray wolves has never been observed, evidence of such occurrences was discovered through mtDNA analysis on jackals and wolves in Senegal [7] and Bulgaria. [8]

Subspecies Edit

Because of the species' wide distribution, a large number of local races have been described. During the 19th century, the golden jackals of Africa were considered separate species from those in Eurasia, and were named "thoas" or "thous dogs". [31] Although several attempts have been made to synonymise many of the proposed names, the taxonomic position of West African jackals, in particular, is too confused to come to any precise conclusion, as the collected study materials are few. Prior to 1840, six of the ten supposed West African subspecies were named or classed almost entirely because of their fur color. [32]

The species' display of high individual variation, coupled with the scarcity of samples and the lack of physical barriers on the continent preventing gene flow, brings into question the validity of some of these West African forms. [32] The species remains poorly understood from a genetic standpoint while the karyotype of Croatian jackals is similar to that of dogs and wolves (2n = 78 NF = 84), that of Indian jackals differs considerably (NF = 80), leading to the possibility that the golden jackal is in fact an aggregate of poorly defined species. [5]

As of 2005 [update], [4] 13 subspecies of golden jackal were recognized. However, the list below excludes Canis aureus lupaster, the so-called "Egyptian jackal", which was demonstrated in 2011 through mtDNA analysis to be in fact a gray wolf. [7] [33]

Linnaeus, 1758 Large, with soft, pale fur with predominantly sandy tones. [34] Middle Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Arabian Peninsula, Baluchistan, northwestern India balcanicus (Brusina, 1892)

caucasian (Kolenati, 1858)
dalmatinus (Wagner, 1841)
hadramauticus (Noack, 1896)
hungaricus (Ehik, 1938)
kola (Wroughton, 1916)
lanka (Wroughton, 1916)
maroccanus (Cabrera, 1921)
typicus (Kolenati, 1858)
vulgaris (Wagner, 1841)

Wagner, 1841 Darker than C. a. aureus, with a tail marked with three dusky rings, it is equal in size to the red fox. [35] Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia barbarus (C. E. H. Smith, 1839)

grayi (Hilzheimer, 1906)
tripolitanus (Wagner, 1841)

Mengesi (Noack, 1897)
somalicus (Lorenz, 1906)

Thomas, 1903 A small subspecies standing 38 cm (15 in) at the shoulder, and measuring 102 cm (40 in) in length. The fur is generally pale stone-buff, with blotches of black. [40] Sudan and Somalia doederleini (Hilzheimer, 1906)

nubianus (Cabrera, 1921)
thooides (Hilzheimer, 1906)
variegatus (Cretzschmar, 1826)

The golden jackal is very similar to the gray wolf in general appearance, but is distinguished by its smaller size, lighter weight, shorter legs, more elongated torso and shorter tail. The end of the tail just reaches the heel or slightly below it. The head is lighter than the wolf's, with a less-prominent forehead, and the muzzle is narrower and more pointed. [43]

Its skull is similar to the wolf's, but is smaller and less massive, with a lower nasal region and shorter facial region. The projections of the skull are strongly developed, but weaker than the wolf's. Its canine teeth are large and strong, but relatively thinner than the wolf's, and its carnassials are weaker. [43] Occasionally, it develops a horny growth on the skull, which is associated with magical powers in southeastern Asia. This horn usually measures half an inch in length, and is concealed by fur. [44] The iris is light or dark brownish. Females have 4 [1] -5 [43] pairs of teats. [1]

The fur's base color is golden, though this varies seasonally from pale creamy yellow to dark tawny. The fur on the back often consists of a mixture of black, brown and white hairs, which sometimes form a dark saddle similar to the black-backed jackal's. [1] Animals from high elevations tend to have buffier coats than their lowland counterparts. [37] The underparts and belly are of a lighter pale ginger to cream color than the back. Individual specimens can usually be distinguished by light markings on the throat and chest which differ individually. The tail is bushy, and has a tan or black tip. [1] Melanists occasionally occur, [45] and were once considered "by no means rare" in Bengal. [46]

Unlike melanistic wolves and coyotes, which historically received their dark pigmentation from interbreeding with domestic dogs, melanism in golden jackals likely stems from an independent mutation, and could be an adaptive trait. [47] An albino specimen was photographed in 2012 in southeastern Iran. [48]

The golden jackal moults twice a year, in spring and autumn. In Transcaucasia and Tajikistan, the spring moult begins in mid-late February, while in winter it starts in mid-March and ends in mid-late May. In healthy specimens, the moult lasts 60–65 days. The spring moult begins on the head and limbs, then extends to the flanks, chest, belly and rump, with the tail coming last. The autumn moult takes place from mid-September onwards. The shedding of the summer fur and the growth of the winter coat is simultaneous. The development of the autumn coat starts with the rump and tail, spreading to the back, flanks, belly, chest, limbs and head, with full winter fur being attained at the end of November. [49]

Social and territorial behaviors Edit

The golden jackal's social organization is extremely flexible, varying according to the availability and distribution of food. The basic social unit is a breeding pair, followed by its current offspring, or offspring from previous litters staying as "helpers". [1] Large groups are rare, and have only been recorded to occur in areas with abundant human waste. Family relationships among golden jackals are comparatively peaceful compared to those of the black-backed jackal although the sexual and territorial behavior of grown pups is suppressed by the breeding pair, they are not actively driven off once they attain adulthood. Golden jackals also lie together and groom each other much more frequently than black-backed jackals. [50]

In the Serengeti, pairs defend permanent territories encompassing 2–4 km², [50] while in Tajikistan, home ranges can have a radius of 12 km. [51] Breeding pairs will vacate their territories only to drink or when lured by a large carcass. [50] During severe winters or brushfires, when food is scarce, golden jackals may travel 40–50 km, sometimes appearing in villages and cultivated areas. [51] The pair patrols and marks its territory in tandem. Both partners and helpers will react aggressively towards intruders, though the greatest aggression is reserved for intruders of the same sex pair members do not assist each other in repelling intruders of the opposite sex. [52]

Reproduction and development Edit

The golden jackal's courtship rituals are remarkably long, [53] [54] [55] lasting 26–28 days, [56] during which the breeding pair remains almost constantly together. [55] In Transcaucasia, estrus begins in early February, and occasionally late January during warm winters. Spermatogenesis in males occurs 10–12 days before the females enter estrus, which lasts for 3–4 days. Females failing to mate during this time will undergo a loss of receptivity which lasts six to eight days. [56]

Females undergoing their first estrus are often pursued by several males, which will quarrel amongst themselves. [56] Prior to mating, the pair patrols and scent marks its territory. Copulation is preceded by the female holding her tail out and angled in such a way that her genitalia are exposed. The two approach each other, whimpering, lifting their tails and bristling their fur, displaying varying intensities of offensive and defensive behavior. The female sniffs and licks the male's genitals, whilst the male nuzzles the female's fur. They may circle each other and fight briefly. [55] The male then proceeds to lick the female's vulva, and repeatedly mounts her without erection or hip thrusting. Actual copulation takes place days later, and continues for about a week. The copulatory tie lasts 20–45 minutes in Eurasia, [56] and roughly four minutes in Africa. Towards the end of estrus, the pair drifts apart, with the female often approaching the male in a comparatively more submissive manner. In anticipation of the role he will take in raising pups, the male regurgitates or surrenders any food he has to the female. [55]

In Transcaucasia, pups are usually born from late March to late April, [56] in northeastern Italy probably in late April, [5] and between December – January in the Serengeti, [55] though they are born at any time of year in Nepal. [37] The number of pups in a single litter varies geographically jackals in Uzbekistan give birth to 2-8 pups, in Bulgaria 4-7, in Michurinsk only 3-5, and in India the average is four. Pups are born with shut eyelids and soft fur, which ranges in color from light gray to dark brown. At the age of one month, their fur is shed and replaced with a new reddish colored pelt with black speckles. Their eyes typically open after 8–11 days, with the ears erecting after 10–13 days. The eruption of adult dentition is completed after five months. The pups have a fast growth rate at the age of two days, they weigh 201–214 g, 560–726 g at one month, and 2700–3250 g at four months. [49]

The length of the nursing period varies in the Caucasus it lasts 50–70 days, while in Tajikistan it lasts up to 90 days. The lactation period ends in mid-July, though in some areas it ends in early August. In Eurasia, the pups begin to eat solid food at the age of 15–20 days, [49] while in Africa they begin after a month. Weaning starts at the age of two months, and ends at four months. At this stage, the pups are semi-independent, venturing up to 50 meters from the den, even sleeping in the open. Their playing behavior becomes increasingly more aggressive, with the pups competing for rank, which is established after six months. The female feeds the pups more frequently than the male or helpers do, though the presence of the latter allows the breeding pair to leave the den and hunt without leaving the litter unprotected. [55] Once the lactation period concludes, the female drives off the pups. Pups born late remain with their mother until early autumn, at which point they leave either singly or in groups of two to four individuals. [49]

Denning and sheltering behaviors Edit

In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, female golden jackals usually give birth in burrows dug with the assistance of males, or they occupy derelict fox or badger dens. The burrow is dug a few days before parturition, with both the male and female taking turns digging. The burrow is located either in thick shrubs, on the slopes of gulleys or on flat surfaces. A golden jackal burrow is a simple structure with a single opening. Its length is about 2 meters, while the nest chamber occurs at a depth of 1.0-1.4 meters. In Dagestan and Azerbaijan, litters are sometimes are located within the hollows of fallen trees, tree roots and under stones on river banks. In Middle Asia, the golden jackal does not dig burrows, but constructs lairs in dense tugai thickets. Jackals in the Vakhsh tugais construct 3-meter-long burrows under tree roots or directly in dense thickets. Jackals in the tugais and cultivated lands of Tajikistan construct lairs in long grass plumes, shrubs and reed openings. [57]

Hunting and feeding behavior Edit

The golden jackal rarely hunts in groups, though packs of 8–12 jackals consisting of more than one family have been observed in the summer periods in Transcaucasia. When hunting singly, the golden jackal will trot around an area, occasionally stopping to sniff and listen. Once prey is located, it will conceal itself, quickly approach, then pounce. When hunting in pairs or packs, jackals run parallel to their prey and overtake it in unison. When hunting aquatic rodents or birds, they will run along both sides of narrow rivers or streams, driving their prey from one jackal to another. [58] The golden jackal rarely catches hares, as they are faster than it. Gazelle mothers (often working in groups of two or three) are formidable when defending their young against single jackals, which are much more successful in hunting gazelle fawns when working in pairs. Jackal pairs will methodically search for concealed gazelle fawns within herds, tall grass, bushes and other likely hiding places. [59]

Although it is known to kill animals up to three times its own weight, the golden jackal overall targets mammalian prey much less frequently than the black-backed jackal. [59] On capturing large prey, the golden jackal makes no attempt to kill it, instead it rips open the belly and eats the entrails. Small prey is typically killed by shaking, though snakes may be eaten alive from the tail end. The golden jackal often carries away more food than it can consume, and caches the surplus, which is generally recovered within 24 hours. [60] When foraging for insects, the golden jackal turns over dung piles to find dung beetles. During the dry seasons, it excavates dung balls to reach the larvae within. Grasshoppers and flying termites are caught either by pouncing on them while they are on the ground or are caught in mid-air. It is fiercely intolerant of other scavengers, having been known to dominate vultures on kills - one can hold dozens of vultures at bay by threatening, snapping and lunging at them. [59]

Habitat Edit

The golden jackal is a generalist that adapts to local food abundances, a trait which allows it to occupy a variety of different habitats and exploit a large number of food resources. Its lithe body and long legs allows it to trot for large distances in search of food. It has the ability to forego liquids, and has been observed on islands with no fresh water. [1] Although the most desert-adapted jackal, [50] it can survive in temperatures as low as -25 ° or -35 °, though it is not maximally adapted for living in snowy areas. [51] Its preferred habitats consist of flat shrublands, humid reeded areas and floodplains. Although it generally avoids mountainous forests, it may enter alpine and subalpine areas during dispersal. In Turkey, Caucasus and Transcaucasia, it has been observed at heights of up to 1,000 AMSL, particularly in areas where the climate forces shrublands into high elevations. [5]

Diet Edit

The golden jackal is an omnivorous and opportunistic forager its diet varies according to season and habitat. In Bharatpur, India, over 60% of its diet consists of rodents, birds and fruit, while 80% of its diet consists of rodents, reptiles and fruit in Kanha. [1] In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, the golden jackal primarily hunts hares and mouse-like rodents, as well as pheasants, francolins, ducks, coots, moorhens and passerines. [61]

Vegetable matter eaten by jackals in these areas includes fruits, such as pears, hawthorn, dogwood and the cones of common medlars. It is implicated in the destruction of grapes, watermelons, muskmelons and nuts. [61] Near the Vakhsh River, the jackal's spring diet consists almost exclusively of plant bulbs and the roots of wild sugar cane, while in winter it feeds on the fruit stones of wild stony olives. In the edges of the Karakum Desert, the golden jackal feeds on gerbils, lizards, snakes, fish and muskrats. Karakum jackals also eat the fruits of wild stony olives, mulberry and dried apricots, as well as watermelons, muskmelons, tomatoes and grapes. [62] In Hungary, its most frequent prey animals are common voles and bank voles. [63] Information on the diet of the golden jackal in northeastern Italy is scant, but it certainly preys on small roe deer and hares. [5]

In west Africa, it mostly confines itself to small prey, such as hares, rats, ground squirrels and grass cutters. Other prey items include lizards, snakes, and ground-nesting birds, such as francolins and bustards. It also consumes a large amount of insects, including dung beetles, larvae, termites and grasshoppers. It will also kill young gazelles, duikers and warthogs. [60] In East Africa, it consumes invertebrates and fruit, though 60% of its diet consists of rodents, lizards, snakes, birds, hares and Thomson's gazelles. [1]

During the wildebeest calving season, golden jackals will feed almost exclusively on their afterbirth. [45] In the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, less than 20% of its diet comes from scavenging. [59] In Israel, golden jackals have been shown to be significant predators of snakes, including venomous snakes an increase in snakebites occurred during a period of poisoning campaign against golden jackals while a decrease in snakebites occurred once the poisoning ceased. [64]

Enemies and competitors Edit

Golden jackals tend to dominate smaller canid species. In Africa, golden jackals have been observed to kill the pups of black-backed jackals. [1] In Israel, red foxes will avoid close physical proximity with jackals, with studies showing that fox populations decrease where jackals are abundant. [65] Conversely, jackals vacate areas inhabited by wolves, which have been known to approach jackal-calling stations at a quick trotting pace, presumably to chase them off. [38]

The jackal's recent expansion throughout eastern and western Europe has been attributed to historical declines in wolf populations. The present diffusion of the golden jackal in the northern Adriatic hinterland seems to be in rapid expansion in various areas where the wolf is absent or very rare. [15] [66] However, some jackals have been observed to follow and feed alongside wolves without evoking any hostility. [1] In Africa, golden jackals often eat alongside African wild dogs, and will stand their ground if the dogs try to harass them. [59] In South-eastern Asia, golden jackals have been known to hunt alongside dhole packs, [36] and there is one record of a golden jackal pack adopting a male Ethiopian wolf. [67]

In India, lone jackals expelled from their pack have been known to form commensal relationships with tigers. These solitary jackals, known as kol-bahl, will attach themselves to a particular tiger, trailing it at a safe distance to feed on the big cat's kills. TO kol-bahl will even alert a tiger to a kill with a loud pheal. Tigers have been known to tolerate these jackals, with one report describing how a jackal confidently walked in and out between three tigers walking together a few feet away from each other. [68] [69]

Jackals will feed alongside spotted hyenas, though they will be chased if they approach too closely. Spotted hyenas will sometimes follow jackals during the gazelle fawning season, as jackals are effective at tracking and catching young animals. Hyenas do not take to eating jackal flesh readily four hyenas were reported to take half an hour in eating one. Overall, the two animals typically ignore each other when no food or young is at stake. [70] Jackals will confront a hyena approaching too closely to their dens by taking turns in biting the hyena's hocks until it retreats. [59] Striped hyenas have been known to prey on golden jackals. [1]

Golden jackals frequently groom one another, particularly during courtship, during which it can last up to ½ hour. Nibbling of the face and neck is observed during greeting ceremonies. When fighting, the golden jackal slams its opponents with its hips, and bites and shakes the shoulder. The species' postures are typically canine, and it has more facial mobility than the black-backed and side-striped jackals, being able to expose its canine teeth like a dog. [71]

The vocabulary of the golden jackal is similar to that of the domestic dog, [72] though more "plaintive", [73] with seven different sounds having been recorded. [72] The golden jackal's vocalisations include howls, barks, growls, whines and cackles. [71] Different subspecies can be recognized by differences in their howls. [72] One of the most commonly heard sounds is a high, keening wail, of which there are three varieties a long single toned continuous howl, a wail that rises and falls [71] (transcribed as "Ai-yai! Ai-yai!"[73]), and a series of short, staccato howls [71] (transcribed as"Dead Hindoo, where, where, where?"[74]). These howls are used to repel intruders and attract family members. Howling in chorus is thought to reinforce family bonds, as well as establish territorial status. [71]

Adults howl standing, while young or subordinate specimens do so in a sitting posture, with the frequency of howling increasing during the mating season. [15] The golden jackal has been recorded to howl upon hearing church bells, sirens or the whistles of steam engines and boats. It typically howls at dawn, midday and the evening. [58] When in the vicinity of tigers, leopards or any other cause for alarm, the golden jackal emits a cry that has been variously transliterated as "pheal", "phion"or"phnew". [74] When hunting in a pack, the dominant jackal initiates an attack by repeatedly emitting a sound transliterated as"okkay!". [ 75 ]

The species is common in North and north-east Africa, occurring from Senegal to Egypt in the east, in a range including Morocco, Algeria, and Libya in the north to Nigeria, Chad and Tanzania in the south. It also inhabits the Arabian Peninsula and has expanded into Europe. [3] The jackal's current European range mostly encompasses the Balkans, where habitat loss and mass poisoning caused it to become extinct in many areas the 1960s, with core populations only occurring in scattered regions such as Strandja, the Dalmatian Coast, Aegean Macedonia and the Peloponnese. [76]

It recolonized its former territories in Bulgaria in 1962, following legislative protection, and subsequently expanded its range into Romania and Serbia. Individual jackals further expanded into Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia during the 1980s. [76] Recently, an isolated population was confirmed in western Estonia, much further than their common range. Whether they are an introduced population or a natural migration is yet unknown. [77] To the east, its range runs through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, the entire Indian subcontinent, then east and south to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and parts of Indochina. [3]

In India, the golden jackal is included in CITES Appendix III, and is featured in Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, thus receiving legal protection, albeit at the lowest level. The species occurs in all of India's protected areas, save for those in the higher areas of the Himalayas. Golden jackals in East Africa occur in numerous conservation units, including the Serengeti-Masai Mara-Ngorongoro complex. [3]

Although listed as vulnerable in the Red Data Book for Greek Vertebrates, the golden jackal is not listed as a game species in Greece, nor is it afforded legal protection. [38] In Estonia, it has been classified as an invasive species, and subject to extermination campaigns. However, by 2014 the population has grown in Läänemaa, Estonia and because there is no proof whether jackals came to Estonia by natural migration or not, it has not been a subject to full extermination, as so far there is no proof of its harmful effect on local fauna [78] The Golden Jackal is listed as an Annex V species in the EU Habitats Directive and as such has legal protection in Estonia, Greece and all other EU member states.

The golden jackal can carry diseases and parasites harmful to human health, including rabies and Donovan's Leishmania (which, although harmless to jackals, can cause leishmaniasis in people). [79] Jackals in the Serengeti are known to carry the canine parvovirus, canine herpesvirus, canine coronavirus and canine adenovirus. [1]

Jackals in southwestern Tajikistan have been recorded to carry 16 species of cestodes, roundworms and acanthocephalans, these being Sparganum mansoni, Diphyllobothrium mansonoides, Taenia hydatigena, T. pisiformis, T. ovis, Hydatigera taeniaeformis, Diphylidium caninum, Mesocestoides lineatus, Ancylostoma caninum, Uncinaria stenocephala, Renal dioctophyma, Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, Dracunculus medinensis, Filariate and Macracanthorhynchus catulinum. Jackals infected with D. medinensis can infect water bodies with their eggs, and cause dracunculiasis in people who drink from them. Jackals may also play a large part in spreading coenurosis in sheep and cattle, and canine distemper in dogs. [79] In July 2006, a jackal in Romania was found to be carrying Trichinella britovi. [80] Jackals consuming fish and molluscs can be infected with metagonimiasis, which was recently diagnosed in a male jackal from northeastern Italy. [81]

In Tajikistan, golden jackals carry at least 12 tick species (which include Ixodes, Rhipicephalus turanicus, R. leporis, R. rossicus, R. sanguineus, R. pumilio, R. schulzei, Hyalomma anatolicum, H. scupense and H. asiaticum), four flea species (Pulex irritans, Xenopsylla nesokiae, Ctenocephanlides canis and C. felis) and one species of louse (Trichodectes canis). [79] In northeastern Italy, the species is a carrier of the tick species Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus. [ 81 ]

In folklore, mythology and literature Edit

. yet the jackal seems to be placed between [the wolf and the dog] to the savage fierceness of the wolf, it adds the impudent familiarity of the dog. It is more noisy in its pursuits even than the dog, and more voracious than the wolf.
- Oliver Goldsmith [82]

The Ancient Egyptian god of embalming, Anubis, was portrayed as a jackal-headed man, or as a jackal wearing ribbons and holding a flagellum. Anubis was always shown as a jackal or dog colored black, the color of regeneration, death, and the night. It was also the color that the body turned during mummification. The reason for Anubis' animal model being canine is based on what the ancient Egyptians themselves observed of the creature - dogs and jackals often haunted the edges of the desert, especially near the cemeteries where the dead were buried. In fact, the Egyptians are thought to have begun the practice of making elaborate graves and tombs to protect the dead from desecration by jackals. Duamutef, one of the Four Sons of Horus and a protection god of the Canopic jars, was also portrayed as having jackal-like features.

Golden jackals appear prominently in Indian folklore and ancient texts, such as the Jakatas and Panchatantra, where they are often portrayed as intelligent and wily creatures. [1] One popular Indian saying describes the jackal as "the sharpest among beasts, the crow among birds, and the barber among men". To hear a jackal howl when embarking on an early morning journey was considered to be a sign of impending good fortune, as was seeing a jackal crossing a road from the left. [83] In Hinduism, the golden jackal is portrayed as the familiar of several deities, the most common of which being Chamunda, the emaciated, devouring goddess of the cremation grounds. Another deity associated with jackals is Kali, who inhabits the cremation ground and is surrounded by millions of jackals. According to the Tantrasara, when offered animal flesh, Kali appears before the officiant in the form of a jackal. The goddess Shivatudi is depicted with a jackal's head. [84]

The Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Bible never mentions jackals, though this could be due to a translation error. The AVs of Isiah, Micah, Job and Malachi mention "wild beasts" and "dragons" crying in desolate houses and palaces. The original Hebrew words used are lyim (howler) and tan, respectively. According to biologist Michael Bright, tan is more likely referring to jackals than dragons, as the word is frequently used throughout the AV to describe a howling animal associated with desolation and abandoned habitations, which is consistent with the golden jackal's vast vocal repertoire and its occasional habit of living in abandoned buildings. Jeremiah makes frequent references to jackals by using the word shu'al, which can mean both jackal and fox. Although the AV translates the word as fox, the behavior described is more consistent with jackals, as shown in the books of Lamentations and Psalms, in which references are made to the shu'al's habit of eating corpses in battlefields. [85]

Some authors have put forth that because of the general scarcity and elusiveness of foxes in Israel, the author of the Book of Judges may have actually been describing the much more common golden jackals when narrating how Samson tied torches to the tails of 300 foxes to make them destroy the vineyards of the Philistines. [85] According to an ancient Ethiopian folktale, jackals and man first became enemies shortly before the Great Flood, when Noah initially refused to allow jackals into the ark, thinking they were unworthy of being saved, until being commanded by God to do so. [86]

In Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli stories collected in The Jungle Book, the character Tabaqui is a jackal despised by the Sioni wolf pack, due to his mock cordiality, scavenging habits and his subservience to Shere Khan. His name likely stems from tabáqi kūtta, meaning "dish (licking) dog". [83]

Livestock, game and crop predation Edit

The golden jackal can be a harmful pest, attacking domestic animals such as turkeys, lambs, sheep, goats, and domestic water buffalo calves, and valuable game species like newborn roe deer, hares, coypu, pheasants, francolins, gray partridges, bustards and waterfowl. It destroys many grapes, and will eat watermelons, muskmelons and nuts. [73]

In Greece, jackals tend not to be as damaging to livestock as wolves and red foxes are, though they can become a serious nuisance to small stock when in high numbers. In southern Bulgaria, 1,053 attacks on small stock, mainly sheep and lambs, were recorded between 1982 and 1987, along with some damages to newborn deer in game farms. About 1.5% –1.9% of calves born on the Golan Heights die due to predation, mainly by golden jackals. In both cases, the high predation rate is attributable to a jackal population explosion due to the high availability of food in illegal garbage dumps. Preventive measures to avoid predation were also lacking in both cases. [38] [87]

However, even without preventive measures, the highest damages by jackals from Bulgaria were minimal when compared to the livestock losses to wolves. [38] [87] Golden jackals are extremely harmful to furbearing rodents, such as coypu and muskrats. Coypu can be completely extirpated in shallow water bodies during the winter of 1948–49 in the Amu Darya, muskrats constituted 12.3% of jackal faeces contents, and 71% of muskrat houses were destroyed by jackals, 16% of which froze and became unsuitable for muskrat occupation. Jackals also harm the fur industry by eating muskrats caught in traps or taking skins left out to dry. [73]

Hunting Edit

The jackal is, I think, a more difficult animal to kill with hounds than the fox. He does not play the game as the fox does. He is as cunning, as intelligent, as wild, but he is far less sophisticated, and it used to please me to think that perhaps in the chase of the jackal we saw hunting as it was in an earlier phase than that at which it has now arrived in England.
- Thomas Francis Dale [88]

During British rule, sportsmen in India and Iraq would hunt jackals on horseback with hounds as a substitute for the fox hunting of their native England. [88] [89] Although not considered as beautiful as English red foxes, golden jackals were esteemed for their endurance in the chase, with one pursuit having been recorded to have lasted 3½ hours.India's weather and terrain also added further challenges to jackal hunters not present in England the hounds of India were rarely in the same good condition as English hounds were, and although the golden jackal has a strong odor, the terrain of northern India was not good in retaining scent. [88] Also, unlike foxes, golden jackals were documented to feign death when caught, and could be ferociously protective of their captured packmates. [90] Jackals were hunted in three ways: with greyhounds, foxhounds and with mixed packs. Hunting jackals with greyhounds offered poor sport, as greyhounds were too fast for jackals, and mixed packs were too difficult to control. [88] British hunters distinguished between three types of jackal the city scavenger, which was slow and smelly, and which the dogs did not like to follow the "village jack", which was faster, more alert, and less odorous and the open- country jack, which was still faster, cleaner, and provided better sport. [89]

Some indigenous people of India, such as the Kolis and Vaghirs of Gujarat and Rajastan and the Narikuravas in Tamil Nadu, hunt and eat golden jackals, but the majority of South Asian cultures consider the animal unclean. The orthodox dharma texts forbid the eating of jackals, as they have five nails (panchanakha). [84] In the former Soviet Union, jackals are not actively hunted, and are usually captured incidentally during the hunting of other animals by means of traps or shooting during drives. In the Trans-Caucasus, jackals are captured with large fishing hooks baited with meat, suspended 75–100 cm from the ground with wire. The jackals can only reach the meat by jumping, and are hooked by the lip or jaw. [73]

Fur use Edit

In Russia and other nations of the former Soviet Union, golden jackals are considered furbearers, albeit ones of low quality due to their sparse, coarse and monotonously colored fur. [73] Asiatic and Near Eastern jackals produce the coarsest pelts, though this can be remedied during the dressing process. As jackal hairs have very little fur fiber, their skins have a flat appearance. The softest furs come from Elburz in northern Iran. [91] Jackals are known to have been hunted for their fur in the 19th century: in the 1880s, 200 jackals were captured annually in Mervsk. In the Zakatal area of ​​the Trans-Caucasus, 300 jackals were captured in 1896. During that period, a total of 10,000 jackals had been taken within Russia, and were sent exclusively to the Nizhegorod fair. In the early 1930s, 20-25 thousand jackal skins were tanned annually in the Soviet Union, though the stocks were significantly underused, as over triple that amount could have been produced. Before 1949 and the onset of the Cold War, the majority of jackal skins were exported to the USA. Despite their geographical variations, jackal skins are not graded according to a fur standard, and are typically used in the manufacture of cheap collars, women's coats and fur coats. [73]

In captivity Edit

The golden jackal may have once been tamed in Neolithic Turkey 11,000 years ago, as evidenced by a sculpture of a man cradling a jackal found in Göbekli Tepe. [92] Golden jackals are present in almost all Indian zoos, with 67 males, 72 females, and 54 unsexed individuals as of March 2000. [1] Outside India, golden jackals are rarely kept in Western zoos, where the more colorful black- backed jackal is mostly exhibited. [5]

In 1975, scientists at Russia's DS Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection began a breeding project in which they crossed golden jackals with huskies, to create an improved breed with the jackal's power of scent and the husky's resistance to cold. In recent years, Aeroflot has used one-quarter jackal hybrids, known as Sulimov dogs, to sniff out explosives otherwise undetectable by machinery. [93] [94]

Attacks on humans Edit

Jackals are responsible for 1.7% of rabies infections in humans in India, coming in third place after foxes (3%) and dogs (96%). [95] During 1998–2005, 220 cases of jackal attacks on humans occurred in Chhattisgarh's Marwahi forest division, though none were fatal. The majority of these attacks occurred in villages, followed by forests and crop fields. [96] On 6 October 2008, a rabid jackal attacked 36 people in five villages in Berasia, Bhopal district, four of whom died later. [97] In early 2012, a jackal thought to be non-rabid injured 11 people, three of them seriously in Chincholi, Gulbarga district. [98] There are several reports of jackal attacks on humans in Iran in 1996, a jackal injured a 10-year old boy, and in late 1997, a jackal injured a man and mauled his seven-day-old son in Kerman Province. [12]


Video: Golden jackal Canis aureus a short DOCUMENTARY


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