Jackals are Medium sized omnivorous mammals of the sub-tribe canina, which also includes wolves and domestic dogs. Jackals are different types – Black-backed Jackal, Side Striped Jackal, and golden Jackal. These Jackals are found in South Central Europe and Asia. Jackals Serve Nature as scavengers. They are also predators of small-sized animals. Their long legs, curved canine teeth, large feet, and fused leg bones are suitable for hunting small animals, birds, and reptiles. Jackals run 16kms per hour. Jackals are most active at dawn and dusk. Their most common social unit is monogamous pair. They mark their territory with their urine and feces. Their territory needs to be large to hold their young adults till the latter find their own territories.
Occasionally they join the groups for scavenging a carcass. But normally they, are loners or in pairs. The English word Jackal dates back to 1600, derived from the french word “Chakal”. The Sanskrit word Srigala Meaning howler is the Jackal. In folklore and literature jackal is mentioned frequently. In the Sanskrit text, the Panchatantra jackal is wise and clever. In Bengali tantric tradition jackal represents the Goddess kali. It is said in Sanskrit text that among the beast’s jackal is the most clever, among the birds, the crow is cleverest, and among the men in human society, the barber caste is the most clever. But in the Mahabharata, the jackal king was an ideal king and ideal father, who after giving his daughter in marriage, leaves the kingdom without taking food and even water. On the way, he died of Starvation.
In the Bible, the jackal is mentioned 14 times. Jackal is frequently used as a literary device to illustrate desolation, loneliness, and abandonment in respect of its living habitat in the rains of former cities and abandoned areas of humans. It is called “wild dog” in several translations of the Bible. In the Hindu Sastra, the sighting of a Jackal is considered auspicious. While going on the road. If you see a jackal, corpse, and the bird Kumbhatua on the left side it is auspicious. So Jackal is welcome in human society.
(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)
Radhakanta Seth is a former Income tax officer in Sambalpur. He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published in Kolkata.
He can be reached at [email protected]