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Jackal

The silver backed Jackal

jackal 1 silver backed

The jackal (from Turkish çakal, via Persian shaghal ultimately from Sanskrit sgāla [1][2]) is a member of any of three (sometimes four) small to medium-sized species of the family Canidae, found in Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe.[3] Jackals fill a similar ecological niche to the coyote in North America, that of predators of small to medium-sized animals, scavengers, and omnivores. Their long legs and curved canine teeth are adapted for hunting small mammals, birds and reptiles. Big feet and fused leg bones give them a long-distance runner’s physique, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for extended periods of time. They are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk.

In jackal society the social unit is that of a monogamous pair which defends its territory from other pairs. These territories are defended by vigorously chasing intruding rivals and marking landmarks around the territory with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults who stay with their parents until they establish their own territory. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs, for example to scavenge a carcass, but normally hunt alone or as a pair.

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Use in slang

The popular, although rather inaccurate image of jackals is as scavengers, and this has resulted in a somewhat negative image.

  • The expression “jackalling” is sometimes used to describe the work done by a subordinate in order to save the time of a superior. (For example, a junior lawyer may peruse large quantities of material on behalf of a barrister). This came from the tradition that the jackal will sometimes lead a lion to its prey. In other languages, the same word is sometimes used to describe the behavior of persons who try to scavenge scraps from the misfortunes of others; for example, by looting a village from which its inhabitants have fled because of a disaster.
  • In Nonviolent Communication, “jackal language” refers to communication that labels, judges, and criticizes.

jackals 2

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