For the fifth time since 2016, the Dutch have been surprised by a visit of a golden jackal. It is only now for the first time that actual video footage has captured the animal. A local citizen spotted the animal as he was working the land, and managed to capture it with his mobile phone camera. Experts have reviewed the footage and concluded that it was indeed a golden jackal. Watch the video here!
Exploring the Dutch Noordkaap
This golden jackal roamed around in the municipality of Uithuizermeeden, located in the far north of the country. During the previous years, golden jackal sightings in The Netherlands happened in the central and northern regions. It follows the trend of the golden jackal population expansion across Europe. Just a few decades ago, the golden jackal resided mostly is south-eastern Europe. However, due to food abundance, warmer temperatures and lack of top predators, the population has expanded rapidly across the continent. Camera traps captured the first golden jackals in France, which came from Switzerland. Several weeks later, the golden jackals were spotted again, still within the French Alps. Other golden jackals sightings took place up north, in Denmark, Estonia, Germany and even further.
A diverse diet
People mistake a golden jackal often for its smaller relative, the fox. The golden jackal has a flexible diet, as it easily adapts to whatever food it can find. Most of the times, it will scavenge on remains and food waste that it encounters. The golden jackal is a so-called opportunistic feeder, which means that they eat what they find. They commonly eat fruits, seeds, rodents and garbage near human settlement. Nevertheless, hungry golden jackals can also predate on livestock. In 2020, a DNA analysis from an attacked sheep led to the conclusion that it was attacked by a golden jackal. The province of Gelderland took the necessary arrangements to compensate the farmer for their loss. Despite that such attacks are uncommon, it is thus important that livestock owners properly protect their animals against depredation. Lowering the lowest wire on an electric fence is usually already sufficient, to stop a golden jackal from crawling under it.
How much room is there for golden jackals?
According to the latest estimates, there are well over 105 000 golden jackal in Europe. This is five times more than the total number of wolves in Europe at the moment. Dutch scientists who conducted a habitat suitability analysis, concluded that there is also a lot of potential room in The Netherlands. As golden jackals feel relatively comfortable close to human settlements, the densely populated country does not deter them. Technically, the scientists calculated that there is room for more than 800 golden jackal families. This would equal to roughly 3000 golden jackals.
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