Thursday, September 11, 2014

East African Jackal

The black-backed jackal, also known as the silver-backed and red jackal, is another one of the three species of jackal and the smallest. We saw quite a few of them in Africa and there was great variability in their look. They reminded me of a large fox or a small coyote. They are found in two disparate areas of Africa. One subspecies, in the south, is known as the Cape jackal, and is found in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The other subspecies, in the east, is known as the East African jackal and is found in Kenya, northern Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, southern Ethiopia, southern Sudan and Djibouti. This is the subspecies we saw. The East African subspecies is a little larger, has differently shaped teeth because of a more carnivorous diet and it is not known to howl. 
Two black-backed jackals in Buffalo Springs NR. Beautiful silver colored back with a black outward strip and silver-black tail. Photo by John Mirau.
Three jackals in Masai Mara with Thomson's gazelles in the background. Likely females as they are less colorful. Photo by Michael Lewin. 
In Masai Mara. This was quite close to a couple of lions feeding on a zebra just across the road we were on. 
The general color is reddish-brown to tan with flanks and legs that are more red. Males tend to be more brightly colored. The back is intermixed with silver and black hairs (thus the silver-backed reference) and the underparts are white. One of the distinguishing characteristics between the black-backed and side-striped jackal is that the black-backed has a black tail tip and the side-striped has a white tail tip. This one feature is what keeps me from labeling several of the jackals we saw as side-striped. 
Photo by Jack Duckworth
Photo by Mark Edwards
Photo by John Mirau
Two in the Serengeti.
In the Serengeti
They are omnivorous, eating beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, termites,millipedes, spiders and scorpions on one end and rodents, hares and young antelopes (impala, Thomson's gazelle, dik-dik and topi) on the other end. They will also eat carrion, lizards and snakes. 


  1. I loved these jackals with their distinct, dramatic black stripes, almost like a mohawk running down their backs. Gorgeous.

  2. These jackals have such interesting faces. Their head shape reminds me a little of a fox.

  3. Lovely animals. I'd like to suggest that the less brightly coloured animals in your photos are juveniles, not females.