The Elusive Jackal (Canis aureus indicus)   Leave a comment

Jackal by the tree

As an Indian, I have grown up listening to fascinating stories about the cunningness of jackals. One such story in the Panchatantra was about a jackal who tricks a crow into parting with her morsel of bread. I couldn’t help remembering that story when I saw this jackal near a tree. It was looking up as if it were in a conversation with some hidden bird up there.

I have seen jackals many a times during my visit to the jungles but was never quite successful in photographing them from close quarters. However, during my last visit to Kabini in Nagarhole, I was treated to the antics of three young jackals, who were quite unperturbed by the presence of our safari vehicle. Infact, for quite a distance they actually lead the way by trotting gently in front of our vehicle along the car tracks. Call it the fearlessness or carelessness of youth but to the chagrin of some of the professional photographers, in our vehicle, these jackals were just too close for the heavy duty 600mm lenses to be effective. My place at the back of the jeep and being equipped with a relatively modest 150-500mm lens just did the trick for me.

Jackals are extremely versatile. They are essentially scavengers but can take down small prey including poultry and even small deer. Jackals are also known to attach themselves to tigers and scavenge the kill after the tiger has had its full. A year or so ago I had seen a Jackal running around with a big Catfish in its jaws. I presumed that this dead catfish might have been washed ashore. Inspite of their cuddly, almost puppy like looks, these creatures have a reputation well worth the stories that I grew up reading. So I was more than happy to finally get a good picture of this elusive one.

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