Side Stripe Jackal in the Timbavati Game Reserve
A very near and dear friend to any safari camp! Their Scientific name: Canis Adustus (Makes you sound very clever out on game drive with your guide, I have tried it and it works!) We have been lucky to have a paid of side striped jackals who live close to the camp, and at night we often hear their very distinctive calls.
The Jackal is generally regarded as a small scavenger, but as well as scavenging, it does hunt and kill its own food. It is often thought of as vermin, especially by farmers who suffer losses and tend to persecute the Jackal as a result. Despite this, jackals are one of the few carnivore species to survive well in close contact with humans and can often be found in and around human settlements.
It’s very easy to identify the Side Striped jackal; they are a much smaller predator than the Hyena, but it is similar in size to a Black Backed jackal. The Side Striped Jackal stands around 40-50cm high at the shoulder, and although similar to other jackals, it has a less pointed face and more rounded ears. The side striped jackal gets its name from the black and white horizontal strips on its sides. These vary in visibility; some individuals have more pronounced stripes than others.
These creatures are mainly nocturnal. They pair for life and maintain a territory which they mark with scat and urine. They are vocal animals and growl when they feel threatened or alarmed and bark loudly as a contact call. There is nothing better than sitting around our camp fire and hearing these jackals calling in to the night.
Jackals prey on smaller mammals such as hares, rodents and small antelope as well as the young of larger antelopes. Side Striped Jackals will also eat snakes, beetles, crickets, spiders, fruit and berries. A pair of male and female jackal will often hunt together which significantly increases the chance of the hunt being successful than if the hunt is undertaken by a single Jackal.
Side Striped Jackals reproduce annually during the rainy season (Months November through to May). The Side Striped Jackal has a gestation period of around 57-60 days. The vixens typically give birth to between 2 and 6 pups in a den which is usually a disused burrow dug by another species such as the aardvark.
The pups are helpless at birth and remain in the den being cared for by the mother while the father hunts for food, either alone or with help from the previous litter of cubs who are now sub-adults. After around 2 weeks the pups start eating meat regurgitated by the parents, but they are not fully weaned till they are around 10 weeks old. At age 3-4 months, the pups start exploring the area around the den and gradually expanding to explore wider areas, and start learning to hunt. By the time they are 6 months old they are able to hunt well but still remain with the parents who feed, groom and play with the pups. At 6-8 months old some of the pups will leave the family unit to find a territory of their own, while some of the other pups will remain till they are 18 months or 2 years old and will become sub-adult helpers who help their parents raise the next litter of pups.