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The extent to which black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) selectively consume domestic sheep (Ovis aries) compared to wild prey is unknown. Using faecal analysis and prey surveys, we determined the seasonal diet and prey selection of jackals on a small-livestock farm in South Africa. Sheep comprised 25-48% of the biomass consumed by jackals across seasons, and consumption peaked during the lambing seasons, indicating sheep often were the main food resource for jackals. Another main food resource was wild ungulates <50 kg, primarily springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) and steenbok (Raphicerus campestris), which comprised 8-47% of the biomass consumed. Other important food items were mammals 1-3 kg (4-16%), which included hares (Lepus spp.) and springhares (Pedetes capensis), and small rodents (10-14%). Compared to the biomass available, jackals selectively consumed mammals 1-3 kg over sheep across all seasons, whereas wild ungulates <50 kg were selectively consumed over sheep in most seasons. Our results showed that jackals selectively consumed different food items throughout the year and that wild prey were consistently selected over sheep. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


African Journal of Ecology

Publication Date





299 - 307