Funding for Black-Backed Jackal Project

THE latest recipient of the Namibian Environment amp Wildlife Society’s (News) small grant funding focuses on the distribution and density of black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) east of Windhoek.

According to the project leader, Miha Krofel from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, information on black-backed jackal population density is limited, despite the animals being widespread throughout Namibia.

The acoustic method employed to study their density is also used in Europe, Asia and Northern Africa on golden jackals. By playing jackal howling and recording acoustic responses from the territorial family groups, researchers can determine the spatial distribution of jackals and estimate their density, says Krofel.

This project will test the applicability of using this survey technique for black-backed jackals on Namibian farmlands and is expected to provide the first estimates of jackal densities in this region study the effects of different types of land use on jackal density, and determine the distribution of jackal groups in relation to the distance to farm houses. According to Krofel, this project is expected to present new insights into the ecology of black-backed jackals in Namibia, which will also have management implications and in addition, if the new method proves to be as effective as predicted for the black-backed jackal, wildlife researchers and managers will be provided with an important new tool to determine the distribution and densities of this species.

According to Peter Cunningham, chairperson of News, funding of the black-backed jackal project is essential in understanding the population dynamics of a controversial species mainly viewed as vermin by small stock farmers with its Namibian conservation and legal status classified as ‘problem animal’. Black-backed jackals have been actively persecuted for well over 100 years and still remain a little understood species.

Persecution often entails the use of poisons which have disastrous effects on species such as vultures feeding on poisoned carcasses.

For this reason, News is also financially supporting a vulture-feeding project at NARREC (Namibian Avian Research Rehabilitation and Education Centre) north of Windhoek in the Brakwater area. This project not only supplies “safe” food, but can furthermore be used to identify tagged vulture movements and numbers using mark-recapture sightings.

Other research projects partially funded by News include spotted hyena diet in the Zambezi Region brown hyena ecology in the Luumlderitz area small spotted cat distribution throughout Namibia and lion-hyena interactions in the Etosha National Park. All these projects supported by News are not only aimed at increasing our scientific knowledge, but should also have useful practical implications. For queries regarding funding and further information on News activities, see the website www.news-namibia.org or contact 061 306 450.

Text supplied by Leejuan Brews, News-letter editor and public relations officer at News

Source : The Namibian