Yes, they are very cute.
No, you cannot have one to take home.
These are the next crop of Kaingo jackal.
Now, the black-backed jackal has a chequered past wherever its path crossed that of humans. Thousands of years ago the Egyptians had an affinity to them.
They named one of their gods, a well-built worrier with the body of a man and the head of a jackal, Anubis. This god oversaw mummification rites, was the god of the afterlife and the saviour of lost souls. He was also the god of the helpless…
In African mythology, the jackal is often the mischievous one. Full of tricks and clever to boot, the jackal always tends to have an answer to everything! The poor lion is often on the receiving end of the jackal’s nefarious plans.
In sheep farming areas the jackal is persecuted because of its tendency to kill sheep and their lambs. They are known to carry disease, sometimes even rabies.
On a reserve like Kaingo, the jackal is an important part of the ecological system. They are expert hunters of small prey; rats, mice, ground-dwelling birds. They remove and eat carrion left by larger predators. They are markers for larger scavengers; along with crows, Fork-tailed Drongos and Long-tailed shrikes, they show the way to prey for vultures and hyena of all shapes and sizes.
How do they breed?
I can confirm that they are very successful. The average litter size is between four and six. They are born in a burrow, usually a disused aardvark burrow. Or, in this case, an old termite mound. The family structure is dominated by the male/female bond that exists between the alpha male and female. Sometimes a lasting relationship will be established between the alpha pair and one of their previous young. This one will fulfil the role of nanny and teacher while the alpha pair is out hunting.
Other young animals are encouraged to move out of their home territories and establish a territory of their own. Fights over territories are usually over quickly without major damage to either combatant.
Their interspecific communication is another great area to study. A family crying at dusk or dawn is proclaiming their territory. I will now try to imitate the call with words: “YIIYaaaa, YIYaaa, yiyaa, yiaaa, aaaa… That was the territorial call. A shrill “Yaaa, yip, yip, yip” call by only one animal is usually a call to food. Sometimes a short ‘Yip, yip, yip” call is used in short-range communication. Try not to laugh…
Ja, it is a pity that they must grow up. Within the next four to six weeks, these once cute little jackals will have to leave their den and start with life in the Great Big Wild.
But for now, I will join the choir of oohs and aahs whilst filling my camera with the baby jackal.
See you soon!