Trapping black-backed jackals
Wednesday, 1st June 2022
Trapping Success of Black-backed Jackals (Canis mesomelas) in South Africa Relative to Land Use Type
Botha, A.E., Droilly, M., Koeppel, K. and Le Roux, A.
Mesopredators are often adaptable species presenting flexible behavioural traits allowing them to live alongside humans. Among them, members of the Canid family are renowned for their ability to persist in human-dominated landscapes, despite persistent lethal control measures. In South Africa, black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) are the main predators of goats (Capra hircus) and sheep (Ovis aries), and conflict with farmers is rife and widespread. We livetrapped jackals between 2014 and 2019 in 4 regions of South Africa to investigate whether jackals respond differently to the presence of non-lethal traps between land use types (farmlands vs. protected areas) and review the spectrum of environmental factors that can contribute to variation in the capture of mesopredators. We conducted 639 nights of trapping that resulted in 30 successful jackal captures. We showed that capture rates of jackals were impacted by land use type with significantly more captures in protected areas (14.55 jackals/100 nights) of adult jackals mostly. Farmlands were characterized by less captures (1.27 jackals/100 nights) of mostly young individuals. Our results suggest elevated wariness by jackals as a behavioural adaptation, particularly by older residents, against the long-term lethal control practices on farmlands. Our findings could inform wildlife researchers and managers by highlighting the importance of land use type on the capture success of jackals and probably other medium-sized canids. In particular, the
potential impacts of continued lethal control on the behaviour of jackals need to be acknowledged and managed to avoid selecting for compensatory life history traits that may intensify conflicts with small-livestock farmers.