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17 November 2013 / leggypeggy

Jackals—the clean-up crew of the jungle

Golden jackal

A golden jackal off to check out a possible meal

India has no shortage of golden jackals, and that’s probably just as well because these dog-like critters play an important role in the country’s food chain.

Put simply, jackals clean up the bodies. They are ever on the alert for signs of a carcass that needs to be finished off. Hordes of descending vultures, the calls of crows or the smell of rotting meat are all signals for jackals to rush to the scene of the kill.

Once there, they will wait patiently until the original predator leaves the kill for any reason. They then move in swiftly to eat as much as they can before the predator returns.

Golden jackals

Jackals generally travel in pairs, but will form packs when hunting larger game such as small deer and antelopes.

When carcasses and wild prey are scarce, jackals are more likely to seek out insects, fruit and vegetables than kill poultry, lambs and goat kids. That said, some jackals must have a severe caffeine addiction because they can be nuisance where coffee beans are grown.

We’ve seen jackals in most of the national parks we’ve visited and as we’ve driven through the countryside. Usually we see them in pairs, but we have also seen a group of four or five. Those were far enough away, it was hard to count them. Others have come quite close to us and we’ve certainly heard plenty of jackals howling at night, but apparently only a rabid jackal will attack a human.

Like the fox in Western literature, the jackal is often cast as the trickster or mischief maker in Indian folklore and stories.

I was intrigued to find a website asking for input on sightings of golden jackals in India. The website says that although jackals occur throughout the country, very little is known about them. I’m off now to add my experiences.


Leave a Comment
  1. gpcox / Nov 17 2013 10:48 pm

    A very important part of your environment; great photos.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2013 12:22 am

      Thanks! They’re sure doing a good job in India.


  2. misslapepita / Nov 17 2013 11:05 pm

    they seem to be very similar to the african jackals, in behaviour and looks.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2013 12:23 am

      I agree, although I’ve seen more jackals in India in a couple of weeks than I ever saw in Africa in a couple of years.


      • misslapepita / Nov 18 2013 12:40 am

        Wow, there are quite a few Jackals in the Serengeti.


      • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2013 12:41 am

        They must have been hiding from me. 🙂


  3. Joanne T Ferguson (@mickeydownunder) / Nov 18 2013 12:54 pm

    G’day! Thanks Peggy! Always interesting to learn something new through you!
    Return of the Jackels in India part II coming our way soon in movie theaters…lol Hope you are laughing too! Cheers! Joanne


    • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2013 11:25 pm

      Yep, I’m laughing and expecting to see plenty more jackals too.


  4. Maria / Nov 18 2013 1:38 pm

    They have been spotted at Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2013 11:28 pm

      Yes, jackals occur all over South and Southeast Asia.


  5. lmo58 / Nov 18 2013 11:01 pm

    Mmm, dholes or jackals? If absolutely pushed to choose, I choose the dholes! Goodness! I hope I never get too close to either but the jackals definitely look more scary. Give me a big cat any day! More cats please!


    • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2013 11:26 pm

      I’ll work on seeing and sharing more cats! 🙂


  6. lmo58 / Nov 19 2013 9:02 am

    As always, your enthusiasm and cooperation are appreciated. Many thanks!



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