In a very short space of time, news about the wolves in Flanders has become a commonplace. Now say hello to the golden jackal.
“We don’t know when exactly this mini-wolf will arrive here, but it will come,” wildlife experts told the VRT.
The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is a member of the dog family, and a relative of the wolf, whose usual habitat is in south-east Europe as well as Asia. A social animal based around the family unit, it is largely omnivorous, with a preference for small animals including domestic poultry.
The jackal’s road to Belgium is being tracked based on sightings in Germany and the Netherlands. Sheep have been attacked in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia, and near to the Dutch city of Nijmegen.
“At first it was thought that they had been attacked by a wolf, but further investigation showed that a male golden jackal was the culprit,” said Jan Loos of Welkom Wolf, the organisation that closely monitors animals such as the wolf and the golden jackal.
The jackal appears to be following the same route as the wolves before them: from Germany to Belgium via the Netherlands, in the footsteps of Naya and Roger, and the paid Noella and August, who went on to produce four cubs in Limburg province.
The difference being that the jackal is a newcomers.
“He’s never been seen here before,” Loos said. “As opposed to the wolf, who was coming back, this one is a complete newcomer.”
New though he may be, his arrival was not unexpected.
“When we forecast the arrival of the wolf in Flanders 10 years ago, we immediately registered the website welkomjakhals.be, because the arrival of this mini-wolf was written in the stars, just like that of the wolf,” Loos said.
And it shouldn’t take long, according to the jackal timetable.
“In a week’s time, the golden jackal that has now been seen on the Dutch-German border, can be here with us,” he said.
“It could take anywhere between a few days and a few years, but he will certainly come.”