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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Field Journals: Sri Lankan Jackals

Jackals in South Asia are extremely shy creatures, absolute introverts when compared to their cousins in Africa.

Although to all intents and purposes, the Asian jackal
is identical to Africa's Golden Jackal, both of which are classed as Canis aureus - there are significant differences in appearance and temperament.
In the decade I've spent filming wildlife around Asia, I've only seen wild Jackals six times - twice in India and the rest in Sri Lanka. And I've only managed to capture them on film on three of those occasions, (of course there have been many 2 or 3 second shots of Jackals racing across the frame and disappearing into the bush, but these obviously don't count). But we managed to film some excellent footage of Jackals late last year whilst working in the forests of Sri Lanka. The three jackals in the photo were part of a pack of seven who had just burst out of the bush, and stopped briefly on the dirt track to inspect our jeep. They then disappeared back into the undergrowth, only to re-appear moments later in an area of tall grassland.

All seven proceeded to leap in huge jumps across the open savannah, and we figured they were all tracking prey that was hidden in the safety of the grasses. By bounding across the grassland like overgrown rabbits, they were not only covering distance quickly, but were also managing to get a better view of their prey while they were airbound - now that's clever.
Anyway we captured some great footage of this activity. The encounter lasted all of about 8 minutes or so - the longest I've ever spent in the company of wild Jackals!

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