Jackal {Canis aureus}

The jackal is a medium-sized carnivore with doglike features and a bushy tail

South Africa WildlifeThe Jackal {Canis aureus}

The jackal, a medium-sized carnivore with doglike features and a bushy tail, is widely distributed in Africa. The three species of jackal in Africa are the golden or common jackal, the side striped jackal and the black-backed or silver-backed jackal.

The golden jackal is somewhat shorter and stockier, and the black-backed is the most slender and upstanding, with noticeably larger ears. Mainly, they differ in color and choice of habitat.

The black-backed jackal is usually the most frequently seen as it is more diurnal than the other two. When they live close to settled areas, however, black-backed jackals often confine most of their activities to nighttime.

Quick Facts


Common (Canis aureus)
side-striped (Canis adustus)
black-backed (Canis mesomelas)


70 to 85cm (Length) 40cm (Height).


10 to 12 kgs.


The common jackal lives in open savannas, deserts and arid grasslands. Side-striped jackals are found in moist savannas, marshes, bushlands and mountains. The silver-backed jackal lives primarily in savannas and woodlands.

Diet - Omnivores

Opportunistic omnivores, Jackals cooperatively hunt small or young antelopes such as dikdiks or Thomson's gazelles or even domestic sheep. They also eat snakes and other reptiles, insects, ground-dwelling birds, fruits, berries and grass.


Live singly or in pairs, and are sometimes in small packs. They are among the few mammalian species in which the male and female mate for life. Mated pairs are territorial. They mark and defend the boundaries of their territory.


Females give birth July-October having a litter of up to 12 young.


2 months.

Life Expectancy

8 years in the wild, up to 12 years in captivity.



Jackal Conservation Status

  • Least Threatened

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

Jackals have one mate for life.

The ancient Egyptians believed a jackal-headed god, Anubis, guided the dead to those who judged their souls. Such beliefs were probably encouraged by the jackal's cleverness, nocturnal habits and eerie howling.

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