The Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas has a reputation in the South African stock farming community as a “lamb killer” and they are persecuted by stock farmers to a very large extent.  Despite the persecution it seems as if their numbers are increasing.  Is this the result of mismanagement of the ecosystems in South Africa over many decades?  They are normally active at dawn and dusk, but these sly animals have adapted behaviour to become completely nocturnal in the areas where they are hunted.  They learn from each other to avoid traps and poisoned baits.  The pictures below were taken on the west coast of the Northern Cape not far from Port Nolloth.

Black-backed Jackal at hole in broken fence

The same individual preparing to crawl the fence

These animals are regularly killed and eaten by larger predators like leopard and brown hyena.  Unfortunately these animals are also persecuted in farming areas as part of the human-wildlife-conflict.  Their natural enemies are dwindling in numbers and therefore cannot contribute to keep the jackal numbers under control.

On the other side of the balance: a single Black-backed Jackal annually kills huge numbers of rodents as prey and carrion forms a large proportion of their daily intake of food. Insects represent a large part of their diet as well.  The management of problem animals that kill livestock poses a huge challenge to both conservation authorities and the farming community in South Africa.