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There are two species of jackal found in Kenya: the common or golden jackal, and the black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas), which is a common sight in the major reserves. The black back which gives it its name is usually more silvery than black, is wide at the neck and tapers to the tail. The golden jackal is similar, though without the back markings. Although the jackal is in fact a dog, its bushy tail and long ears are more like a fox.
The jackal is mostly a scavenger and so is commonly seen in the vicinity of a kill. The jackal will hunt for itself – insects, small mammals, birds, and the occasional small antelope. They are also found around human settlements and will attack sheep, poultry and calves. Jackal are territorial and a pair will guard an area of around 250 hectares. Cubs are born in litters of five to seven and, although they don’t reach maturity until almost a year old, they usually leave the parents when just two months old. Enemies of the black-backed jackal include the leopard, cheetah and eagle.