Golden Jackal

(Common Jackal - Asiatic Jackal)
Canis aureus
Shoghal - In Persian

General information:

The name "Jackal" comes from the Persian word "shoghal". Another Persian name for this animal is "Tur".

In some parts of Iran it has different names. In Baluchestan they call it "Tulag" in Kerman as: "Tureh" in Kordestan "Chaghal" and in Mazandaran local people call him: "Shaal".
They have made a deep impression (generally negative) on people of Iran and play a significant role in many fables. They have the same reputation for slyness as the fox. The golden jackal's species name, aureus, means golden in Latin and it is almost like the old Persian fable that says:" The yellow dog is the brother of the Jackal". Golden jackals play an important scavanging role by eating garbage and animal carrion around towns and villages.

Appearance:

The head and body length of the golden jackal is 60 to 106 cm. and tail length is 20-30 cm. Its shoulder height is approximately 38 - 50 cm and the weight is 7-15 kg. Males are 15% larger than the females. They have 4-8 mammae. Their coat color varies depending on age, season, geographical and region. Its coat is usually between dirty yellow/red with white ticking and brown-tipped. The back of the ears are darker and the tail is reddish with a black tip. Underside is frequently ginger or nearly white. The fur is generally coarse and not very long but Golden jackals that live in temperate climates also have a thicker coat that those that live further southward.

Habitat:

They mostly prefer desert dry open country, arid short grasslands and steppe landscapes. Also found in oasis and areas around human habitation.

Diet:

Jackals adjust quickly to environmental changes and It feeds on anything that is edible. Their diet is very varied (about 54% animal food and 46% plant matter) which consists of young gazelles, rodents, rabbits, ground birds and their eggs, reptiles, frogs, fish, insects and fruit. They have also been known to take farm animals like hens and ducks. They take carrion on occasion and will steal food from larger predators, but Jackals have learned to wait until they are done feeding. They will bury their food to prevent other animals from taking it. Cooperation between mated pairs can greatly increase hunting success. In areas around human habitation, it can subsist on garbage but there are some reports about attacking people by Jackals in Iran too. On Sep. 4, 1997 one Jackal near a village in Kerman province, attacked a man, wounded him and teared his 7 days old infant up after grabed him from his father. In another case in 1996, one jackal attacked and wounded a 10 years boy in Iran. It is not sure that these jackals were afflicted by rabies or not.

Breeding & Reproduction:

Reproduction is annual and varies with the region they live in. There is not any report about time of mating in Iran but in Israel it occurs between Oct.-Feb.
The females are sexually mature in 11 months and the males up to 2 years. After about 62 days of gestation, 3 to 6 (some times more) pups are born in a den. Weight at birth is 200-250 grams. During her pregnancy, the male will bring her food. After they are born, the mother spends almost all of her time with them during the first 3 weeks of their life. She will suckle them about 5 times a day. Pups' eyes open after about ten days. The mother moves the densite often, to avoid the attention of predators. The pups are nursed for about 6 weeks, and completely weaned at four months. At this time they tend to wander off, and accompany their parents on hunting trips. Both parents provide food and protection.
Golden jackals live 10 to 13 years in the wild and up to 16 in captivity.

Behavior:

Golden jackals are monogamous (mate for life) and territorial animals. It usually lives alone or in pairs, but occasionally forms groups. Memmbers of a group are friendly to one another. However, if strange jackals meet each other, most of the behavior expresses subordination, superiority, or eagerness to attack. As pairs, they forage, hunt, mark and defend territory and rest together. Members of the same family also cooperate in sharing larger food items and transport food in their stomachs for later regurgitation to pups or to a lactating mother.
Jackal is nocturnal in areas inhabited by humans, but is also commonly sighted during the daylight hours, especially when the climate is harsh or the weather bad. They dig caverns for shelter, or use crevices in rocks, or caverns that were dug by other animals.
They behave in a manner similar to domesticated dogs and wolves. They mark off territory with urine (Territory size is 0.5 to 2.5 km2). Males raise a hind leg when spraying their urine, and females squat at the site they wish to spray. Males and females alike mark their territory by spraying, primarily during the mating season.
Both male and female members of a golden jackal pair have important roles in raising the young. When one parent dies, it is unlikely that the rest of the family will survive. However, in most jackal families, there are one or two adult members called "helpers." Helpers are jackals who stay with the parents for a year after reaching sexual maturity, to help take care of the next litter. These helper associations are probably responsible for reports of large packs hunting together and also bring food to a lactating mother and improve the provisioning of the pups indirectly by allowing the parents to spend more time foraging alone or hunting as a pair. packs that have helpers may be able to defend and exploit a carcass more successfully than an individual would be able to.
Golden jackals use a wide inventory and highly distinctive of howls to locate one another. Howls serve the same purpose as they do in wolves. By howling together, a pair shows that there is a bond between them, helps them keep in touch with one another and claim territory.

Distribution:

The golden jackal is prevalent in most of the parts of Iran. Reports are from: Gilan, Kerman, Markazi, Khuzestan, Hamadan, Sistan & Baluchestan, Fars, Khorasan, Lorestan, Chahar Mahal, Bushehr and Gonbad Provinces.

Population Status in Iran:

On 30/12/1976 Jackals been declared as a protected animal for preventing its extinction, but since the Islamic revolution in 1979 authorities have removed this law.

The golden jackals hunted for their fur and sometime because they attack farm animals or raids crops and agricultural fiels. There is no special status about the population of Jackals in Iran, but it seems that golden jackal is not threatened.

A very rare breed of Short-Leg Jackal in Tehran zoo-2000. We dont konw if this is a native genus of Iran or not.


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