Habitat use and home range of black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) on farmlands in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) are an abundant mesopredator on farmlands (croplands and rangelands) across South Africa. Given their adaptability in a changing anthropogenic landscape, knowledge of spatial movements can provide important ecological information on the species. We captured, collared and monitored five black-backed jackals in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal to determine their home range and habitat use in farmlands. The 95% fixed kernel (95% FK) home range sizes were large, showing a marked seasonal variation in movement. One adult male dispersed 150 km over two seasons (winter and spring) and thereafter settled into a home range that it maintained. Transient home ranges of males and juveniles were larger than resident home ranges. The mean resident home ranges (95% FK) across seasons for adult males, adult female and juvenile males were 11.4 ± 4.3 km2, 5.6 ± 0.36 km2 and 2.15 ± 0.45 km2, respectively. The mean transient home ranges (95% FK) of all the seasons for adult and juvenile males were 1 181.93 ± 575.81 km2 and 104.27 ± 35.64 km2, respectively. Adult jackal preferred croplands in spring, summer and autumn but avoided croplands in winter. Variable habitat use and large home ranges in our study confirmed the species’ ability to adapt to agricultural areas.
Keywords: agriculture, carnivore, dispersal, habitat use, home range, movement, radio-tracking, wild canid