Canis adustusside-striped jackal

Geographic Range

Side-striped jackals are found predominantly in tropical Africa ranging from 15 degrees North to 23 degrees South lattitude. They inhabit moist wooded areas in east, west, and central Africa, and have been known to inhabit areas as high as 2,700 meters. They do not, however, inhabit the rain forests of west or central Africa.


Side-striped jackals are most common in moister habitats. They inhabit a vast array of regions including moist wooded areas, savannahs and thickets, marshes, bushlands, grasslands, swamps and mountainous areas up to 2,700 meters. They are also common in cultivated areas and have been seen crossing major highways on numerous occasions.

Physical Description

The side-striped jackal is easily distinguishable from its other jackal relatives. It is slightly more drab in color, and has shorter legs and ears. These jackals tend to be light gray to tan and are distinguishable by a white tip on their relatively dark tails. They tend to have a white stripe from elbow to hip and black side stripes which are not always conspicuous. This jackal species tends to be heavily built and is sexuallly dimorphic in size, males are somewhat larger than females. Males range from 7.3 to 12 kg, whereas females are seldom known to weigh more than 10 kg.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    7 to 12 kg
    15.42 to 26.43 lb


Side-striped jackals are among the few mammalian species in which the male and female mate for life; hence they are monogamous.

Mating occurs every year just before or during the rainy season. This usually takes place from June to July, or September to October. Litters range in size from 3 to 6 offspring; however, evidence suggests that there may be some resorption of fetuses in the womb or other sorts of early reduction in the litter size, ultimately resulting in a litter of only 3 to 6. The average gestation period lasts between 57 and 70 days. Lactation occurs for 8 to 10 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached around 6 to 8 months and dispersal follows at 11 months of age.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 6
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    57 to 70 days
  • Range weaning age
    56 to 70 days
  • Average weaning age
    42 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    274 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    274 days
  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • post-independence association with parents
  • extended period of juvenile learning



Side-striped jackals are strictly nocturnal, having peak activity times in the evening well before dawn. These animals tend to live singly or in pairs, but have been known to form packs having as many as 6 members. Packs of 8 to 12 have been recorded but are extremely rare. These jackals tend to forage on their own or in pairs. Areas with larger food supplies often encourage larger groupings.

Mated pairs of jackals are territorial and are known to mark and defend the boundaries of their territory.

Jackals are very vocal creatures. Yipping calls are made when the family gathers and are specific to individual families. Non-members do not recognize, or respond to the calls of other families. Additionally, when threatened, these jackals make loud screaming vocalizations. When seriously wounded, the vocalizations change from screams to low croaks. Side-striped jackals are distinguished from other types of jackals by having an "owl-like hoot" rather than a "howling" vocalization. As such, they are often given the onomatopoeic name "o loo" by the Karamajong people.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Side-striped jackals are more completely omnivorous scavengers than any other type of jackal. Their diet varies from area to area, however, they are generally known to feed mainly on insects, fruits, small vertebrates, carrion, and plant material. They catch various insects, mice, and birds by making a quick dash or pouncing action, but have never been recorded to run anything down. Rather, they tend to feed on the leftovers of other faster predators.

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • carrion
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Jackals are the subject of much superstition. In Kampala, their skin and nails are sold as fetish components to ward off evil spirits. In the Buganda tribe, their hearts are cut out and boiled as a method of treating epilepsy.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Jackals have historically been known to cause outbreaks of rabies as well as distemper. They represent reservoirs for both of these diseases and are often trapped and poisoned during outbreaks to prevent spreading. The obvious negative affect is the spread of these diseases to game animals, as well as to humans that come into contact with these sick animals.

Conservation Status

Despite distemper epidemics killing off thousands of jackals in the early part of the century and common trapping and poisoning during rabies outbreaks, no direct threat to the species is known. They are relatively rare throughout their range, but are not considered endangered. Conservation efforts have been made by incorporating Canis adustus into numerous national parks and reserves including: Serengeti National Park and Akagera National Park.

Other Comments

Side-striped jackals are prey to leopards, hyenas and eagles. For small pups, eagles are an especially dangerous threat.

On a different note, it is an interesting fact that side-striped jackals are more closely related to wolves than are any other species of jackal, despite their smaller size and single family social structure.


Julie Brensike (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


flesh of dead animals.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


Kingdon, J. 1977. East African Mammals. New York, NY: University of Chicago.

Mochtman, P., D. Rowe. 1998. "International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (On-line). Accessed November 20,1999 at

Thinkquest team, 1998. "Wildlife" (On-line). Accessed November 20,1999 at