🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Terror of Poachers

Silver-backed Jackal pup

I was lucky enough to rescue one of these little animals caught in a trap set on the bottom strand of a barbed wire fence. I was driving along a country road in our area and saw a peculiar movement in the grass and stopped. To my dismay, I saw a little Fox trying to free itself from a string and piece of wire around it's neck, strangling himself as he kept struggling.

As I approached carefully, he stopped struggling and took on a threatening stance, baring his teeth and growling at me trying to look very fierce through his fear, but I could see he was still only a puppy. I tried to cover him with my jacket, but he fled the length of the string to the other side of the fence.

Slowly I pulled him back through the fence and quickly grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and hastily covered him with my jacket. I managed to break the string by scuffing it on the barbed wire and undid the wire around his neck, which left a deep cut where it had been biting into his skin.

I drove home with him clamped between my legs, wrapped in the jacket and he actually lay surprisingly still. I was worried that he had died of shock or something, but once I got home and released him in one of our kennels, I saw that he was very much alive indeed. Before removing the jacket covering him, I cleaned and treated his wound, put down fresh water and closed the gate, leaving him alone for a while to recover. A while later I took him some porridge and milk, which he devoured ravenously once I had left, watching him from a distance.

Later that afternoon I fetched him from the kennel, took him inside and sat with him on the couch. His curiosity soon overcame his fear and before long he was sniffing me and everything else he saw.

This little fellow spent a couple of weeks with us, entertaining us with his antics of attacking my sheepskin slippers, pouncing on them and trying to tear them apart. Then one morning, as I went out to feed him, he was gone. He'd climbed over the 6' diamond mesh fence and although I searched our smallholding for a while, it was obvious that he was gone.

I knew I'd miss him, but wished him well and just hoped he would manage to evade the traps set by poachers and live a long, healthy life. These little animals are hunted for their beautiful pelts, as well as various body parts, which the locals use as 'muti' (medicine).

Silver-backed Jackal

The jackal, a medium-sized carnivore with doglike features and a bushy tail, is widely distributed in Africa. The three species of jackal in Africa are the golden or common jackal, the side striped jackal and the black-backed or silver-backed jackal.

The golden jackal is somewhat shorter and stockier, and the black-backed is the most slender and upstanding, with noticeably larger ears. Mainly, they differ in color and choice of habitat.

The silver-backed or black-backed jackal is usually the most frequently seen as it is more diurnal than the other two. When they live close to settled areas, however, black-backed jackals often confine most of their activities to night-time.

Diet: Opportunistic omnivores, Jackals cooperatively hunt small or young antelopes such as dikdiks or Thomson's gazelles or even domestic sheep. They also eat snakes and other reptiles, insects, ground-dwelling birds, fruits, berries and grass.

Socialisation: Live singly or in pairs, and are sometimes in small packs. They are among the few mammalian species in which the male and female mate for life. Mated pairs are territorial. They mark and defend the boundaries of their territory.

Silver-backed (black-backed) Jackal

Silver-backed Jackal pups


  1. What an angel of mercy you are to helpless little animals, you do so much good. The little fellow will have to take care now he has escaped and is out in the big wide dangerous world again.

  2. Hopefully he might have learnt something from the experience Glennis, but those traps are so cleverly set along their daily trails that they don't see them.



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