Reproduction in the jackals Canis adustus Sundevall, 1846, and Canis mesomelas Schreber, 1778 (Carnivora: Canidae), in Zimbabwe
Aspects of reproduction in two species of jackals (Canis adustus and Canis mesomelas) from Zimbabwe were studied using reproductive organs of jackal carcasses submitted for rabies testing or collected during culls. In C. adustus, parturition took place from early September to early October and in C. mesomelas during September and October. The female reproductive cycle was synchronized in both species. Eighty percent of females bred in any particular year and 20 % of those that bred lost their litters soon after birth. The average litter size at birth of C. adustus was 5.8 (n = 16, range 3–8) and of C. mesomelas 4.6 (n = 30, range 1–8). The productivity of the two species was estimated at 1.8 and 1.5 pups per adult per year for C. adustus and C. mesomelas, respectively. These data suggest that jackal populations are capable of very rapid recovery following population crashes and that populations will fluctuate seasonally, with peak densities of independent, mobile jackals (capable of participating in rabies cycles) occurring around December and January.
Key words: black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal, rabies.