Black Backed Jackal

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Canis Mesomelas

The size and shape of a medium-sized domestic dog it is the most common of the jackals of Africa. Also called the silver-backed jackal due to the silver sheen on the top of its body.



Two separate populations occur in East and southern Africa. The Black-backed jackal is common throughout its distribution, although it has been wiped out in parts, mainly in the small-stock farming areas of South Africa because of its killing of young sheep and goats.

Social structure

Black-backed jackal will pair for life and both partners urine scent-mark their territories and defend against intruders. The sizes of the territories vary and depend on factors such as availability of food and competition from other jackal. When one of the partners dies the territory will usually be taken over by another pair as the single animal will not be strong enough to defend own its own.

Range differentiation

No great differences between the two populations


A wide range of habitats from savannas to deserts. Survives comfortably on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia.


Jackals feed on a wide variety of food including small mammals, young antelope, birds, reptiles, insects and fruit. The African ebony tree is also known as the jackal berry tree due to jackals eating their fruits. Jackals will also scavenge and have even been known to steal kills from cheetah and leopard. As mentioned earlier they will kill the young of small-stock in the farming areas.


Jackal pair for life and are seasonal breeders. Size of the litter varies from two to seven and pups from previous litters assist in the care of the young ones.