The golden jackal – new potential kleptoparasite for Eurasian lynx

Posted - Jun 29, 2022

In the last 50 years, Europe has witnessed the arrival of a new mesocarnivore; the golden jackal (Canis aureus). Although jackals are not an alien species in Europe, the arrival of a new carnivore can introduce certain ecological impacts to the local wildlife. Teams from University of Ljubljana – Biotechnical Faculty and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Zagreb have studied the potential effect of kleptoparasitism (i.e., the act of stealing food) by jackals at lynx (Lynx lynx) kill sites and showed that this mesocarnivore could potentially influence lynx by reducing the amount of food lynx has available.

Golden jackal (Canis aureus). Photo: Miha Krofel

The study was conducted in Slovenian Dinaric Mountains, where since 2006, camera traps were used to monitor animals feeding on 65 lynx kill sites. They recorded two cases of jackal scavenging on lynx prey remains. With only two cases of jackals recorded on lynx kills, the proportion of jackal presence at lynx prey is still very small. However, both cases occurred in the last two years of 16 -year surveillance, which is probably connected with increasing number of jackals in Slovenia. They also studied overlap in the distribution range between these two species across Europe and estimated that jackals have so far colonized 13% of lynx range, with one of the largest overlaps noted for the Dinaric lynx population.

Golden jackals scavenging on lynx prey remains on the edge of Menišija plateau in Dinaric Mountains, Slovenia. Photo: Lan Hočevar

The risk of kleptoparasitism by jackals on lynx could be, however, reduced through interaction with another large carnivore – the grey wolf (Canis lupus), who is known to suppress jackals by killing or pushing them out to the edges of their territories. On the other hand, wolves and lynx mostly coexist in the same areas. Thus, in absence of wolves, high numbers of jackals could have a stronger impact on lynx via kleptoparasitism. It’s worth to note that both recorded cases of jackal scavenging on lynx kill sites in this study were on the edge of wolves’ territories, where it is known that their impact on jackals is lower.

Full scientific paper Golden jackal as a new kleptoparasite for Eurasian lynx in Europe was published in Global ecology and conservation.