Jackal comes out of hiding near Prague

Golden jackal, photo: Artemy Voikhansky, CC BY-SA 3.0

A photographer has for the first time taken a photo of a golden jackal on Czech soil. What’s more, the picture has been taken just outside the Czech capital. According to experts, the animals are migrating from their original habitat in Turkey and the Balkans and their sightings in the Czech Republic have become increasingly more common.

Golden jackal,  photo: Artemy Voikhansky,  CC BY-SA 3.0
The golden jackal has been spotted on the territory of the Czech Republic, mainly in South Moravia, since the late 1990s. Several of the animals fell to hunters who mistook them for a fox. The first piece of evidence proving the existence of jackals in the country was taken last year by a camera trap set in the Labe region just 40 kilometres out of Prague. But it was only last week that a photographer managed to capture the shy animal on a real camera on the southern outskirts of Prague.

The golden jackal is at home mainly in southeast Europe, Africa and Asia, but in recent years, the species began migrating towards the north and west of Europe as well, to countries such as Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and the Baltic States. Zoologist Jiří Šafář says global warming may be one of the reasons the species has migrated from their original home:

“The species has lived in the Balkans for years but previously didn’t move to our longitudes, so one of the reasons behind its spreading towards the north and northwest are climate changes. It is true that other species from the area have also been moving to our territory in recent decades. On the other hand, it can also been triggered by changes in the use of landscape in their original habitat.”

According to Mr Šafář, the specimen captured on the camera could have been a parent looking for food to feed its cubs, but it could also have been a migrating animal looking for a partner.

“I think the jackals spotted in the Czech Republic are mostly migrating across our territory. On the other hand, the specimen in the Labe region has been captured by the camera trap repeatedly, and it must have been around for at least a year. Jackals, just like any other predators, are very careful, and stay hidden but there are places in the Czech Republic that could have been settled by jackals already for several years.”

Despite the increased sightings of the species Mr Šafář says zoologists so far have no evidence that jackals have actually bred on the territory of the Czech Republic. The species, which mostly feeds on insects, small rodents and birds, usually tries to keep its distance from humans and according to zoologists, the only threat the jackal could possibly pose to people is the transmission of rabies.