Canis aureus moreoticus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1835
Common names: Golden jackal, Common jackal, European jackal [En], Chacal doré, Chacal commun [Fr], Gewone jakhals [Nl], Goldschakal [De], Sciacallo dorato [It], Chacal dorado [Es], Χρυσό τσακάλι, Τσακάλι το κοινό [Gr], Altın çakal [Tu]
Çeşme, İZMIR ● Turkey
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
About this shot: I came across this poor golden jackal hunting unusually at day time, not far from human settlement. He was heavily affected by the sarcoptic mange, which is caused by a tiny burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis, the “itch mite”. He has lost many hairs including on his tail. Perhaps the disease has changed his usual behaviour. He even accepted a piece of börek I throw to him. His chance of survival is very low because of the high stage of the disease.
Description: The golden jackal is a medium-sized canid usually the size of a cocker spaniel dog. The animals in South-eastern Europe, Asia Minor and Caucasus, belong to the subspecies C.a. moreoticus, which seems to be one of the largest in the world, with animals of both sexes averaging 120 - 125 cm in total length and 10 - 13 kg in body weight. Pelt colours are quite variable, but usually reddish, golden-brown and silverish predominate, while individual variation in body colour and especially in head and throat markings is quite common.
Biology : Golden jackals live in mated pairs and are strictly monogamous. 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, without breeding, to help take care of the next litter.
Jackals are mostly nocturnal hunters who emerged from the dense cover just after sunset. Sometimes, they could be seen also during daylight hours, but they were ready to retreat in dense cover on any human disturbance or even presence.
Golden jackals consume 54% animal food and 46% plant food. They are opportunistic foragers with a very varied diet, including rodents, (especially during winter), hares, ground birds and their eggs, reptiles, frogs, fish, insects and fruit. They take carrion on occasion.
Golden jackals play an important scavenging role by eating garbage and animal carrion around towns and villages. They benefit agriculture by preventing increases in the number of rodents and lagomorphs.
On occasion, shepherds in the Kackars, Turkey, encounter jackals that take lambs from flocks. Jackals in Turkey have been also known to eat the eggs of the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas).
Habitat: Optimum habitat seems to be cultivated areas and wetlands in lower elevations, with adequate cover to be used for hiding and breeding. Areas like these usually have high human use but this could be beneficial for jackals since there is constant year round food supply due to the human activities as well as open foraging lands.
Distribution: Southeast Europe, Asia Minor and Caucasus.
Conservation : Like other carnivores species of Turkey, such as the wolf and brown bear, the golden jackal is in decline, living in fragmented habitat pockets. These canids are still widespread in Asia Minor, but have no legal protection and are locally extirpated in many accessible locations.
Johnson K., 2002 The status of mammalian carnivores in Turkey, University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources.
Ivory A., 1999. . Canis aureus, Animal Diversity Web.
WWF Greece, April 2004. Conservation Action Plan for the Golden Jackal Canis aureus L. in Greece.
Brown L. and MacDonald D. W.,1995. Predation on green turtle Chelonia mydas nests by wild canids at Akyatan beach, Turkey, Biological Conservation, Volume 71, Issue 1, Pages 55-60.