Jackal shimi eni iStock 623
The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is widespread, living across southern Europe, the Middle East and south Asia. It is the only jackal that ranges into North Africa, where it was held sacred to the Egyptian god Anubis in ancient times. It usually sports a golden-brown or yellow coat of short, coarse fur and a black-tipped tail.

Golden jackals mate for life and typically raise pups together for about eight years. They live in clearly defined scent-marked territories, often in small family groups. Some offspring remain as helpers, taking care of newborn pups and leaving their mothers free to gather food for their families.

These jackals are found mainly in open grassland terrain. Dominance fights are common, and golden jackals spend more time away from their groups than other social canids. The dominant cubs tend to be the ones that leave their groups, but in unfavourable conditions they will drive the weaker ones from their packs.

Jackals are opportunistic feeders, eating whatever carrion and small mammals they can find, as well as a lot of plant matter. However, golden jackals hunt more than other jackal species, and often come into competition with hyenas and lions, which will try to steal their prey. The jackals eat very quickly, without chewing their food, and will often bury their kills to hide them from other scavengers.

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