The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Prairie Dog
Story Of The Wild Boar
Story Of The Porcupine
Story Of The Hippopotamus
Story Of The Jackal
Story Of The Tapir
Story Of The Monkey
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Story Of The Jackal
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In India lives a wolf-like creature called the jackal, which gives a peculiar wailing howl. As the animal is known to feed on dead bodies, the Anglo-Indian version of its howl is as follows: "Dead Hindoo! where, where, where!" The jackal has another howl or cry used only when in the vicinity of a tiger. I have heard both cries and they are the most peculiar that I can recall. There is a fable, religiously believed by the natives of India, that the jackal acts as a scout for the lion, and that the king of beasts shares the prey with his smaller friend. This took its origin from the fact that the lion, after eating his fill, leaves the remainder of the carcass, and the skulking jackal, finding it, makes his meal from the leavings.
The jackal is well known both as a prowler and a scavenger, in which capacity he is useful, and as a disturber of our midnight rest by his horrible yells, in which peculiarity he is to be looked upon as an unmitigated nuisance. He is mischievous, too, occasionally, and will commit havoc among poultry and young kids and lambs; but, as a general rule, he is a harmless, timid creature, and when animal food fails, he will take readily to vegetables. The jackal sometimes feeds on dead bodies, which it digs out of the shallow graves made by the natives, and I once came across, in the vicinity of a jungle village, the dead body of a child that had been unearthed by a jackal.
The jackal can be tamed, and I once had several with me in an interior village of India.
One of these would answer to its name, and was remarkable for the cleanliness of its habits, being particularly averse to getting its feet wet by' rain, seeking during showers the shelter of the huts. As a rule, it never sat down on its haunches after the manner of a clog, but would lie at full length, with its nose resting between its fore-paws, and would generally select a sunny spot, where it lay blinking in the sunlight.
The black-backed jackal is a very distinct African species. The adults of both sexes are brightly colored, the sides of the body being red, the limbs and the upper part of the tail reddish yellow; while the back of the body and the end of the tail are black. The individual hairs of the body are ringed with black and white or red and white, so as to produce a speckled appearance in the fur. The under parts of the body and the inner sides of the limbs are nearly white, the ears and part of the face being yellowish brown. This striking coloration occurs, however, only in the full-grown jackals, the fur of the young being a uniform dusky brown. The dark band on the neck so often found in the common jackal is absent. The ears are very long.
This jackal is found both in the open country and in bush jungle. In the sandy regions on the shores of the Red Sea it is to be found frequently in the small thickets covering the banks of the ravines, which swarm with hares and pangolins, upon which the jackal feeds. At night it visits the villages of the natives, and in Somaliland it is stated to bite off the fat tails of the sheep. In the Sudan it lives chiefly upon the smaller antelopes, mice, jerboas and other rodents.
The Asiatic jackals vary considerably in point of size, the length of the head and body varying from two to, two and one-half feet. Its general color is a pale grayish, with a larger or smaller admixture of black on the upper parts. The under parts are paler, and the muzzle, ears and the outer sides of the limbs more so than the rest, The reddish brown hairs of the tail have long black tips, thus forming a distinct black tip to the tail itself. The African variety is of rather larger size, with relatively longer ears; and the sides of the body are grayer. Occasionally yellow, black and white varieties of the jackal have been met with, the latter being true albinos.
The jackal ranges from the southeastern countries of Europe to India and Ceylon; thence it extends through Assam to Northern Pegu and the neighborhood of Mandalay, although it is much less common east of the Bay of Bengal than in India. In Northern Africa it inhabits Egypt and Abyssinia, and the districts to the north of the Sahara. In the Himalaya it ascends to from three to four thousand feet above the sea level. Through-out India it may be found indifferently in hilly or plain country, in forest or open districts, or in large cities.
Although jackals are frequently in the habit of going singly or in pairs, they often associate in packs, which may be of considerable size; these assemblages being more frequent at night than during the daytime. In India the jackal's wanderings are by no means confined to the night.
In extremely hot weather they appear to suffer much, and may be found either lying in the water, where they spend most of the day, or sneaking away therefrom, instead of being, as usual, hidden away in their holes.