The hunting jackals

Black-backed Jackals, I had always thought, are scavengers, feeding off the carcasses killed by lions.This one in Namibia is feeding on an oryx carcass (the jackal is immediately behind the carcass, and the oryx horns are in the left foreground).

If you pushed me, I might have guessed that they also hunt tiny things like mice. All true, but it turns out they have bigger fish to fry (wrong metaphor, I admit.)

After a few hours of game watching in the Maasai Mara, we had paused for breakfast on a rise looking out over the huge grassy plain, filled with gazelle, impala, zebra and buffalo (this picture looks in the opposite direction, but I thought you’d like to see what breakfast was like!):

Two jackals were prowling around in the far distance. Suddenly Tinka, my guide, jumped to his feet and said “Oh my goodness, they’ve just killed that baby gazelle”, and hurriedly started to pack up our breakfast and load the truck. We drove at headlong speed across the plain, and sure enough, the jackals had got a newborn gazelle, its fur still wet and curly:

They argued over who got what,


and then they started a tug-of-war:

Here is a short video:

They eventually tore it in two, and the winner got the head:

She carried it off into the long grass strewn with small white flowers that seemed as though they were scattered in mourning for the tiny life cut short.

Ravel’s music, Pavane pour une infante defunte, though written for an infanta not an infant, still feels right, here played by Ravel himself.

PS The flowers are Cycnium adonense, the White Blotting Paper Flower, with delicate floppy petals.

2 thoughts on “The hunting jackals”

  1. Scrumptious breakfast interrupted. Good meal for the Jackals, but heartbreaking for Mom Gazelle. Ravel’s piano composition is so beautiful…I needed to look up infanta. What a lovely flower…not what I’d expect to be growing in grassy plains…looks like a cross between a moonflower & a gourd flower. You lead an interesting, dramatic & eventful life, Moira.


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