Common name: golden jackal
- 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.
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 later at a later time.
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.
It looks a lot like a dog, it has a fairly bristly golden yellow fur with some brown tips even if the color can become more or less intense depending on the season and the area where it lives.
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.
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 the 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 an eye on the rodent and hare and rabbit populations.
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
- 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);
- image not subject to copyright.