Black-backed African jackals may often look as if they are solitary, and only meet up at carcasses, but the truth is rather different — they are not cowards and attack things far bigger than themselves, and are also good hunters.
They mate for life, and there is often a chance the lone jackal you are seeing is one of the parents or one of their adult young. They are a family group and each go their separate ways when foraging (like the brown hyena).
The one you spot, may actually be the father looking for food to bring back to his mate that is nursing pups.
African Jackals are native to Africa — there are two kinds — the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal. There was a third one, the golden jackal, but it was recently revealed that the golden jackal is actually a wolf — through DNA.
The jackal is one of the most monogamous (mates for life) animals on the planet.
The only time one of the pair might look for another mate is if the original partner died, and if that happens, the living/remaining jackal has to find a mate as quickly as possible, because a new pair will take over their territory.
The side-striped jackal is an interesting jackal, in that it is not as predatory as the other African jackal — the black-backed jackal. So, not as much a carnivore and more of an omnivore. It likes fruit, and that can be 30% of its diet when the season is right. It does, however, also hunt, but small animals like invertebrates and rodents — it does not hunt things bigger than newborn antelopes.
It was noted that one broke into a duck pen — not to feed on ducks, it ignored them and only fed on the duck food!
Some of us struggle to tell the black-backed jackal apart from Africa’s other jackal species — the side-striped jackal. Although the side-striped is bigger, it is only slightly and sometimes the black-backed jackal looks more silvery and resembles the side-striped jackal.
Due to them not having significant size difference and similar colouring, you will not be blamed for mixing them up, but there is one physical difference that tells them apart: The tail.
- The side-striped jackal has a white tip on its tail.
- The black-backed or silver-backed jackal has a black tip — and so does the golden wolf (once called the African golden jackal).