Diet composition of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro crater is known for having the highest density of carnivores in the world. In the past, most of the research focused on large carnivores such as lions and spotted hyenas. Medium sized carnivores such as jackals have received very little attention and the information on these carnivores including their diet composition is limited. Diet composition of golden jackal(Canis aureus) was studied in the Ngorongoro crater from July 2014 to May 2015 covering both dry and wet seasons using focal animal observation (direct method) and collection (and analysis) of faecal/scat samples from known individuals in the field (indirect method). In both seasons, insects (mostly dung beetles, Family Scarabaeidae) were the most common food item consumed. Quantitatively, carrion (carcasses of large herbivores mainly wildebeest and buffalo) and Abdim's storks (Ciconia abdimii) contributed the most to the diet of golden jackal in the dry and wet season respectively. Jackals also consumed plant materials of the family Cucurbitaceae in both dry and wet seasons. Seasonal variation in types of food was noted; in wet season when the jackals consumed birds (Abdim's storks), Thomson's gazelle fawns and wildebeest placenta. The results suggest that the golden jackals are omnivorous and opportunistic foragers.
Key words: diet, season, golden jackal, Ngorongoro