Ever seen a jackal in the wild? Although it occurs widely in India, we know very little about the jackals. These images were photographed a few years ago during the early winter months between 7:30 to 8am at Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, Kabini backwater range. We believe that jackals have never been sighted here for past over 15 years or more, so it’s interesting to know if the jackals have lost their way and have entered the protected forest. Or are there any other reasons for them to been wondering in this forest.

jackal

Photograph: Praveen Siddannavar

 

Over its entire range, in general except in protected areas like National Parks and Sanctuaries, the jackal population is steadily declining. Traditional land use practices, like livestock rearing and dry farming that were conducive to the survival of jackals and other wildlife, are being steadily replaced by industrialization and intensive agriculture; wilderness areas and rural landscapes are being rapidly urbanized. Jackal populations adapt to some extent to this change and may persist for a while, but eventually disappear from such areas like other wildlife.

I was on the morning safari drive towards the kabini backwaters and suddenly noticed that a group of spotted deers were panicked and running towards our safari vehicle. My first assumptions as a natural history wildlife photographer was if the spotted deers were being chased by the big cats either a tiger or leopard or any other predator like dholes (wild dogs). However to my surprise I could see two jackals a male and a female walking very casually on the manmade safari track.

jackal

Photograph: Praveen Siddannavar

 

Was this “The Return of Jackals” into the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve? Probably yes, because later this particular jackal couple were spotted on several occasions and I was fortunate to be present on all these occasions. Every sighting of these jackal was special and a great natural history moment.

The return of jackals to Nagarahole was surely interesting and I was even more fortunate to study and understand their behavior, especially if they have spent most of the years around the agriculture and farm lands. Their presence made some impact and added more life to the forests of Nagarahole.

It is generally acknowledged that the return of the jackal is one of the most significant natural history developments to have occurred in Kabini in the past decade.