Black-backed Jackal

Total length 95-115cm / tail length 27-30cm /shoulder height 40cm /mass 7-10kg
Typical average dog-like carnivore with red-brown fur and a distinctive black and silver saddle on its back that is broad on the neck and shoulders and gradually narrows towards the base of the tail. The base of the tail is red-brown that turns into black towards the tip. The face and legs of the animal show the same distinctive red-brown colour that slightly fades, tending towards white under the breast, more specifically the belly area. The head is shaped with a pointed fox-like muzzle and two distinctive large ears with the red-brown colour on the outside and longish white hairs on the inside.

Predominantly a nocturnal animal but may also be observed in daylight. Very timid and will at all costs avoid confrontation with humans.  During the daytime the animals will usually rest in the shade in higher areas and where human activity is limited. Depending on the season, they will be observed single or in pairs or at certain times of the year, even as a family. Litters are usually born around August and consist of four to six pups. They are born in dark, underground dens and the male, the bitch and helper (an offspring from the previous year’s litter) will all care for the pups. Both the male and the bitch mark territorial areas and the size of the territory depends on the availability of food and competition with other dominant pairs.

The jackal is an incredibly adaptable animal that can over a short period of time superbly adapt to any form of habitat. This is why today it is found all over South Africa with a denser population in some areas than in others. Desert regions, the Karoo plains, the grass plains of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, the mountains of the Eastern and Western Cape and even the coastal areas, pine plantations and maize fields are well known habitats of the animal.

Seasonal diet of black-backed jackal in the Eastern Karoo, South Africa

The results suggest that in this study, black-backed jackals, although being opportunistic in terms of diet composition, had a seasonally stable food resource, most likely facilitated by the presence of cheetahs providing scavenging opportunities.

These animals are known to cause considerable livestock losses and are not only responsible for catching smaller and weaker stock such as lambs but will also kill large sheep. They will even attack cows that are lying down to calve and will start feeding at the calf as it emerges or at the cow’s udder and inside flanks of the hind legs. Live calves up to one week old can also fall prey to the jackal.

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Demography and morphometry of black-backed jackals in South Africa and Namibia

Human-carnivore conflict is a global phenomenon. Therefore, in a country like South Africa predation management is a necessary but sometimes controversial activity and the role of the government is as much to provide oversight as it is to save livestock and protect wildlife.

Study by HO De Waal, University of Free State


Killing / Catch pattern
  1. Normally catches animal on side of its head
  2. Clear tooth-marks between the ear and eye of animal

Feeding pattern
  1. Starts eating on the groin (lies) of the stomach (Slide 24/28)
  2. Removes intestines and stomach from the body
  3. Likes to eat the pluck (harslag) of animal
  4. Characteristic is the grazing (afvreet) of rib bones

Tracking and prevention

1. Identifying the culprit

Both the black-backed jackal and the caracal display distinctive capture and feeding patterns from which they do not deviate. These patterns help us to identify the culprits and we only have to inspect the area from the base of the neck (chest) to the head of the prey to do this. Jackals catch their prey on the side of the head whereas caracals target the windpipe under the jaws. Jackals like to remove the guts of the prey and then feed on the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys and also display distinctive feeding patterns with the bones, especially the ribs of the prey. Caracal other the other hand will not take out the guts of their prey but will start feeding on the hind legs.
To confirm the identity of the culprit the carcass can be skinned to inspect the bruises and blood spots under the skin. The caracal uses its claws to capture and hold its prey in the process of throttling it and will leave distinctive markings on the underside. If there were still doubt about the identity of the culprit the next step would be to inspect the area around the carcass for tracks of the predator.

Inspecting the predator’s tracks will assist in distinguishing between the two species.  The jackal’s tracks usually show an imprint of its nails in its tracks whereas a caracal’s tracks show no claw imprints. Jackal tracks are slightly longer than that of the caracal. Jackal tracks are elongated whereas caracal tracks are more rounded. The jackal track shows a pear-shaped form imprinted by the front paw’s large back pad whereas the caracal’s track shows three distinctive crescents (lobes) at the back of the large pad.

2.    Non-lethal control measures

Non-lethal control measures usually consist of scaring off the predators, away from the livestock or the immediate vicinity. It is very important to remember that these methods have no permanent impact on the predators, the effect is only temporary. If these measures are used it must be remembered that they should regularly be alternated. The reason is that predators are extremely intelligent and quickly build up resistance against the specific measures if repeated permanently.

Firstly we can consider the boundary fences, in which case jackal-proof fencing wire and electrified fences should be weighed up. Secondly, we should evaluate deterrents and preventative measures that can physically be attached to the livestock. We consider the various collars around the necks of cattle to prevent the animal from getting caught around the neck, repelling odours or lights that can be fitted to the animals. Thirdly, electronic equipment such as collars fitted around the necks of the livestock to warn the farmer on his phone when his animals are being chased around. This can also be done via a satellite system. Other deterrents to consider are sounds and smells that are released by nature to scare off the predator. Finally, specific animals can be used to perform the role of shepherd, such as donkeys, alpacas, llamas and various shepherd dogs.

3.    Lethal control measures.

This involves the physical capture and elimination of predators, using methods such as trained packs of hunting dogs, equipment such as spring- and cage traps, using professional night hunters who use the call and shoot method and, finally, helicopters to eliminate predators from the air.

When adopting these lethal management methods it is very important for livestock owners to ensure that they only use trained professionals. If trained professionals are not used, it is essential that the farmer and his staff beforehand acquire the skills necessary to physically capture the predators with spring- and cage traps before any of those methods and apparatus are being used.





Control method -no permits required

Control method – permits required

Contact person

Department of Environmental Affairs

All species listed as threatened or protected in terms of section 56 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004).

Generally include, but not limited to, the following species:

  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Cheetah
  • African wild dog
  • Elephant

It does not include caracal and black-backed jackal

Methods for which a permit may not be issued:

  •  Gin traps
  • Poison other than Compound 1080



A permit is required to hunt/ kill, or to capture and translocate, a DCA.

The following methods are permissible, if specified on the permit mentioned above:

The use of:

  • Poison (only Compound 1080 is permissible)
  • Bait and traps, only in the following circumstances:
  • (i) if the DCA is in the immediate vicinity of the carcass of domestic stock or wildlife which it has, or apparently has, killed; and
  • (ii) if a DCA is about to cause damage to stock or wildlife
  • Luring by sound or smell
  • Dogs, only to flush a DCA or to track a wounded DCA
  • Darting, for the translocation of a live DCA
  • The use of a motorised vehicle, aircraft or spot lights


Ms Olga Kumalo

012 – 310 3573


Control method -no permits required

Control method – permits required

Contact person

Cape Nature

Shooting during daylight hours for landowner. Hunting license and written approval if not the owner. All non-lethal methods.

  • Call and shoot (All applicants)
  • Approved soft traps (PMF members)
  • Small stock protection collar (PMF members)
  • Registered Sniffer dogs (PMF members, no contact between dogs and DCAs)

CapeNature Permit Section:
021-4830121 or 021-4830120 or

Download application for prohibited hunting method

KZN Wildlife

Does not appear on TOPS lists or in the Ordinance.

Contact your District Conservation Officer (DCO) who will advise and assist if necessary.

KZN Centralised permit application
Sharron Hughes (033) 8451968 /

In the case of DCA, it is better to contact the DCO directly as generally permits are not required – and prompt action is. If this DCA is an emergency, the land owner can act immediately and contact his/her DCO thereafter (within 24hrs). The DCO will undertake the necessary field inspection and approve the permit post facto.

DETEA – Free State Province

  • Shooting
  • Call and shoot day and night
  • Shooting by vehicle and Helicopter
  • Leg holding device by landowners. Landowner by means of own hunting dogs on own land.
  • All the non- lethal methods like Livestock Protection Collar etc. Non-landowners need written permission from landowners.
  • Leg holding device by non-landowner
  • Poisoned collar,
  • Registered hunting dogs.

DETEA Free State Permit Office.
(051) 4009527 /13

Lourens Goosen (051) 4009534

Lewensiklus van die Rooijakkals

Mei – Jakkalspaar baken hul kern-area af, teelgate word skoongemaak en die teelpaar word ʼn identifiseerbare eenheid. Die kern-area is die gebied waar die jakkalspaar die minste bedreig voel, byvoorbeeld bedags sal rus en waar die teelgate voorkom.

Junie – Paring vind plaas. Teelpare en hul loopgebiede is vasgestel en afgebaken. Jakkalse is skugter en vermy konfrontasie met ander jakkalse.

Julie – Tewe is dragtig. Die teelgate word besoek om die beste een vir die werpsel te identifiseer.

Augustus – Aankoms van die nuwe werpsel

September – Reun en teef spandeer baie tyd in die kern-area by werpsel

Oktober – Werpsel word gespeen. “Helpers” (=jong jakkalse uit die vorige werpsel) begin help om kos aan die werpsel te verskaf.

November – Gespeende jakkalse begin tussen die teelgate en waterpunte rondbeweeg. Die ouers en helpers bly hulle versorg deur kos aan te dra.

Desember – Gespeende jakkalse is aktief in die totale kern-area. Die ouers en helpers bly hulle versorg.

Januarie – Jong gespeende jakkalse is vrylopend in die totale kern-area.

Februarie – Jong jakkalse begin wissel.

Maart – Jong jakkalse is klaar gewissel. Die teef leer hul jag en kos raak ʼn al groter prioriteit.

April – Jong jakkalse begin goed op hul eie funksioneer. Jag en kos is nou die vernaamste aktiwiteit.


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