Canis aureus - The Jackal

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.

Did you know? 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.

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.

Did you know? Jackals have one mate for life.

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.


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.


To see a jackal in the wild, visit one of many of the national parks and nature reserves around South Africa. These include the Anysberg Nature Reserve four hours outside Cape Town in the Western Cape, the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga (about four hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, and less than an hour from Nelspruit), and the Klaserie Nature Reserve in Limpopo and the Kgaswane Game reserve in Rustenburg (North West).

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.


Wish you were here?

Marataba Mountain Lodge

  • Property TypeGame Lodge
  • Guests10
  • Rooms/Units5
View and book

Where to see Jackal in their natural habitat?

Want to see jackal in their natural habitat? In South Africa, find jackal in many game reserves and national parks, including...

Conservation Status
South Africa's Big 5
South Africa. Explore. Experience. Stay® has been assisting travellers with their South Africa travel plans since 1999, and is the largest, independent online travel guide for South Africa available in both English and German.