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If somebody asked me what my favorite African animal is, chances are I’d either say the barking gecko or the black-backed jackal, depending on the day. Today it’s the jackal.

Black backed jackal in the Kalahari

Black-backed jackal trotting away in the Kalahari


I love jackals. They are like my comfort food while on safari. I love to see them trotting along their highways. I love seeing them hunting moths under the spotlights and I love to hear them calling in the night. A repertoire of chaos, their yapping and barking is very similar to that of the American coyote.

But the main reason I am so fond of them is that I worked with a jackal research project in Namibia for a few months. The best part of the job was watching jackal dens for hours, and recording what the pups were doing. Another one of my fondest memories was falling asleep on a boulder under the scorching desert sun and being awakened by a very inquisitive jackal just a few feet behind me. We scared the crap out of each other when our eyes met.

It was one of the happiest times of my life.

Hal and I saw the jackal in this photo right at the beginning of a night drive in the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park. He crossed the riverbed and walked toward our car. He looked briefly at us and carried on trotting. Just passing through. I have things to do, bushes to sniff, other jackals to see, he seemed to tell us.

Then he crossed the road and disappeared into the bushes.