several species of the wolf genus of mammals
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Jackals are canid species found in Africa, Asia and Europe.[1] They are carnivorous of small and medium-sized prey. To hunt, they can run at speeds of 16 km/h (10 mph). This is not fast, but they have great endurance, so can run for a long time.

Temporal range: 23 mya–present
Golden Jackal
Scientific classification
Black-backed jackal

They often chase prey as a pair or a group, usually not as individuals. Jackals are "opportunistic omnivores", which will take on larger animals if they need to. They are predators of small to medium-sized animals and scavengers.

Jackals are monogamous (each male lives with only one female). A pair defends its territory from other pairs: they mark the territory with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults who live with their parents until they have their own territory. Sometimes, jackals join small packs, for example to hunt a big animal, but normally they hunt alone or as a pair.

Jackals are not a clade. They have several times developed from canid ancestors. However, they are closely related. It could be put this way: jackals are dogs which have a certain similar appearance and behaviour. They all have 78 chromosomes.[2] There are three species of jackals:

  • Black-backed jackal (Lupulella mesomelas) - the common jackal, live in many African habitats;
  • Golden jackal (Canis aureus) - live in South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe;
  • Side-striped jackal (Lupulella adusta) - live in central and Southern Africa;

A canid from Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), is sometimes called Simien jackal, but it is really a wolf. The Ethiopian wolf is one of the rarest and most endangered of all canids.


  1. "Jackal" is a common name, and does not take an initial capital except when starting a sentence.
  2. Wayne R. 1993. Molecular evolution of the dog family. Trends in Genetics. 9 (6): 218–24. doi:10.1016/0168-9525(93)90122-X. PMID 8337763