Monday, May 10, 2010

Black-backed jackals arrive at Al Ain Zoo

The Gulf Today, 16- April 2010

A pack of six black-backed jackals have reached at the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR). The family of jackals included two males and four females; the species are presented to the public for the first time at the AWPR.
"The black-backed jackals are slender creatures, weighing five to 10 kilogrammes," said a spokesperson of the zoo. "Their sides, head and legs are a sandy tan to reddish gold in colour. The black-backed jackal's most distinctive feature is the mantle of black hair on the back that contrasts with its rust-coloured body."
"The tail of the animal is black-tipped, as is that of the golden jackal. The species is usually the most frequently seen as it is more diurnal than the other two species," said Dr Mike Maunder, chief officer of conservation, collection and education at the AWPR.
"Indigenous to the Southern and Eastern regions of Africa, the black-backed Jackal is one of the few animals that mate for life," he added. "The animals are the most abundant and widespread of the larger carnivores in sub-Saharan Africa."
According to him, jackals are not currently in danger of extinction, but they are wildly and unnecessarily killed for their fur, as animal farmers believe the species kill their livestock.
"But, they are very cunning and resourceful. Although usually considered scavengers, they do pick over kills made by large carnivores and frequent rubbish dumps -- they also hunt and kill a variety of prey," explained Maunder. "Farmers believe that the black-backed jackals hunt domestic animals including dogs, cats, pigs, goats, sheep and poultry. Sheep farmers fear the jackals more. But, they rarely target cattle."
"Jackals usually den in holes made by other species, though they will occasionally dig their own; females will dig tunnels one to two metres in depth with a one metre wide entrance," he noted.
"Sounds made by black-backed jackals include yelling, yelping, woofing, whining, growling and cackling. When calling to one another, they emit an abrupt yelp followed by a succession of shorter yelps," he pointed out. "Jackals of the same family will answer each others calls, while ignoring those of strangers."
"The AWPR is committed to the protection and conservation of arid land carnivores. The jackals are now on exhibit near the white lion exhibit at the zoo, which is open during the day, beginning from May 1. The wildlife park [is] regularly open [at] evenings from 4pm to 12 midnight and on Fridays from 10am to 12 midnight."

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