Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas)  

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Canidae
Size:    Length: 1.4 to 3.2 feet (42.6 to 97.5 cm)
Weight: 11 to 35 pounds (5 to 18.6 kg)
Diet: Small mammals, insects, fruit and berries
Distribution: Eastern and southern Africa
Young:  Litter of 1 to 8, but usually 3 to 4
Animal Predators:  Leopards and hyenas. Eagles and pythons prey on the young
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Pup
Lifespan: Up to 14 years in captivity and usually 8 in the wild



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

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

·       Jackals have excellent vision and hearing.

·       Males are slightly larger and are more vibrantly coloured.  



Black-backed jackals have red fur with a large, distinctive black and white patch running down the length of their back. Their face is small and fox-like, with large ears. 



Black-backed jackals live in two specific areas in Africa. The southernmost population ranges over South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The other population can be found in the east—in countries such as Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The areas are separated by approximately 559 miles (900 km) of arid land. Black-backed jackals live in open woodland and grassland—they are not often found in forested areas. Each jackal couple stakes out a territory of a square mile (2.5 sq km) and vigorously defends it against intruders.


Feeding Habits

Black-backed jackals feed on insects, small mammals, fruit and vegetation. Although they are good hunters, they are also avid scavengers and like to feast on the remains of a larger predator’s hunt. They are extremely social and will join up with other jackals for the purpose of hunting large prey. 



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



Jackals are usually seen in pairs—they mate for life and when separated will call out to each other. They hunt together and equally mark their territories with urine. When they have offspring, they both care for the pups. Couples also groom each other. The usual gait of black-backed jackals is a trot; if moving more slowly, they are most likely hunting. Jackals are extremely wary of larger predators such as humans and will not confront them aggressively. Jackals living near cities or towns tend to be mostly nocturnal, going out at night to search for food, and will scavenge through trash for food. In less inhabited areas they are active both by night and day. 



Black-backed jackals are protected in areas such as Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve in South Africa.



Black-backed Jackal Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US