I’ve been getting a few messages about the differences between the canines featured on this blog. Though I plan to make detailed pages of each species in the future, here’s a little info on each species.
Side-striped jackals (Canis adustus) are characterized by a white or silver marking running along their sides, as well as a long, white-tipped tail. They’re the larger of the two ‘true jackal’ species, and the most widely distributed of the two. They’re extremely shy creatures and primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas opposed to their cousins on the open plains. Side-striped jackals eat less meat then their cousins, fruit accounting for nearly 30% of their diet in rural areas.
Black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas), also known as silver-backed jackals, are the world’s oldest living canine species, dating back to the Pleistocene. Like side-striped jackals, black-backed jackals are monogamous and tend to live in small family groups. Though commonly depicted as scavengers, black backed jackals have been know to hunt larger prey such as impala and springbok. They also display sexual dimorphism, with male black-backed jackals having darker, more graphic saddles than females.
Though commonly referred to as the Golden jackal, Canis aureus is closer related to wolves. They are able to produce fertile hybrids with dogs, gray wolves, and African golden wolves, while the side-striped and black-backs can only breed with their respective species. This small but adaptable canine is found in Africa, Europe, and Asia with many various subspecies. They are commonly depicted in Indian and English folklore, including a golden jackal named Tabaqui from Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book.
The African golden wolf (Canis anthus) is the newest canine species to have been discovered. Golden wolves exist in a variety of shapes and sizes depending upon their environment, from the stalky Egyptian wolf subspecies, to the lean Serengeti wolf which greatly resembles coyotes and jackals. They were considered an African variation of the golden jackal until 2015, where a series of analyses on the species' DNA demonstrated that it was in fact distinct from the golden jackal.