Side-striped jackal (Canis adustus)

French: Le Chacal À Flancs Rayés
GenusCanis (1)
SizeLength: 65 - 110 cm (2)
Weight8 - 15 kg (3)

The side-striped jackal is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The side-striped jackal (Canis adustus) is a medium-sized canid of sub-Saharan Africa, with long legs, a long muzzle and a fairly short, bushy tail. Its pelt is mainly grey, the back being darker than the underside, and its black tail normally has a distinctive white tip. Its head is a brownish-grey and the legs often have a reddish tinge (2). A fuzzy white stripe with black fringing runs along the side-striped jackal’s flanks from the elbow to the hip, and these stripes are more defined in adults than in juveniles (2) (4).

The side striped jackal is found in western and central Africa, where its range extends as far south as Zimbabwe and northern South Africa, although it is absent from the equatorial zone (1) (5) (6) (7).

Inhabiting a range of habitats, the side-striped jackal can be found in bush, grassland, woodland, marsh and mountain habitats up to elevations of 2,700 metres, but it generally avoids exposed savanna. It often occurs near rural dwellings and farm buildings due to increasing encroachment of human settlements (1) (2).

Where the side-striped jackal’s range overlaps with the golden jackal (Canis aureus) and black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas), it often resides in areas of dense vegetation, leaving open areas to the other species of jackal to avoid confrontation (2).

An omnivorous species, the side-striped jackal often consumes fruit and carrion, but the main component of its diet tends to be small mammals. It almost exclusively hunts at night, pursuing small prey alone or in pairs, and medium-sized prey in pairs or small groups. Individuals do not always actively hunt and often prefer food sources which are readily available and easy to obtain. The side-striped jackal is an opportunistic forager and adjusts its diet throughout the year, usually feeding on invertebrates during the wet season, hunting small mammals in the dry season, and eating seasonally available fruits (6).

During the breeding season, the side-striped jackal becomes more territorial and shows an increased use of vocalisation. This species forms monogamous, long-term pairs, and in southern Africa mating usually occurs during winter, between June and August. There are normally four to six pups in each litter, and it is thought that both adults care for the young (6). Non-breeding side-striped jackals have also been found to care for unrelated offspring (6) (8). The pups emerge from the den around December, but it is estimated that only two pups normally survive past the age of six months (6).

The side-striped jackal is able to exploit areas developed by humans, but unfortunately this has led to its persecution by hunting and poisoning, as it often attacks livestock (1). It is also targeted to protect human populations from rabies, even though epidemics are most likely due to rabid domestic dogs. The incidence of rabies is seasonal in the side-striped jackal, with more individuals infected in the summer months (3).

It is plausible to estimate the side-striped jackal population at over three million (1), but although the population is stable, humans may be impacting this species on a local scale (3).

Occurring in several protected areas in southern Africa, the side-striped jackal can be found in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and Kruger National Park, South Africa. It is also present in national parks further north such as Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, Niokola-Koba National Park in Senegal and Comoe National Park in Ivory Coast. However, as it is a relatively common species, the side-striped jackal does not have any legal protection outside of these areas (1).

Find out more about the conservation of the side-striped jackal and other canids:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
  2. Sillero-Zubiri, C., Hoffmann, M. and Macdonald, D.W. (2004) Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at:
  3. Bingham, J and Purchase, G.K. (2002) Reproduction in the jackals Canis adustus Sundevall, 1846, and Canis mesomelas Schreber, 1778 (Carnivora: Canidae), in Zimbabwe. African Zoology, 37(1): 21-26.
  4. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Loveridge, A.J and Macdonald, D.W. (2002) Habitat ecology of two sympatric species of jackals in Zimbabwe. Journal of Mammalogy, 83: 599-607.
  6. Macdonald, D.W and Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2004) The Biology and Conservation of Wild Canids. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  8. Bekoff, M., Diamond, J. and Mitton, J.B. (1981) Life-history patterns and sociality in canids: body size, reproduction, and behaviour. Oecologia, 50(3): 386-390.