Behaviour of a Jackal at a Leopard Kill

Behaviour of a Jackal at a Leopard Kill

On March 2, 1990, I sat over a cow killed by a leopard in a ravine near Purohit-ji-ka-Talab, a small lake near Udaipur. The blind was 15m from the kill and I took up my position in the hide at 1530 hrs.

 

Behaviour of a Jackal at a Leopard Kill

On March 2, 1990, I sat over a cow killed by a leopard in a ravine near Purohit-ji-ka-Talab, a small lake near Udaipur. The blind was 15m from the kill and I took up my position in the hide at 1530 hrs.

After the lapse of an hour I heard the alarm call of langur and 15 minutes later I saw a leopard descending on my right into the ravine. Probably it noticed the unnatural construction near the kill and sensed some danger.

It stopped about 100m from me, almost concealed behind some bushes. After some time it rose, took a long detour around the hide and took up its position about 40m from the hide. Only the tail of the leopard was visible from my position. Here the terrain was undulating and strewn with boulders and thick bushes. It was comparatively flat with a few bushes towards my left.

Just before dusk I spotted a jackal approaching the kill from the left. It was in a highly nervous state, stepping carefully, sniffing constantly up and down and occasionally whipping around to look behind. It came to the kill and before feeding on it again looked carefully around.

At this moment the leopard gave a loud cough. The jackal turned round like lightning, gave a loud whining sound and fell head over heals. Standing up again, it tried to run hard but after taking two or three steps it again fell and did a complete somersault! To revolve a body of a quadruped at 360° is extremely difficult but the jackal turned its body at 360° and that too in a quick succession. It turned four somersaults, twice fell headlong on the ground and finally disappeared from sight.

The leopard did not even get up. As darkness approached I left the blind and was greeted by the leopard with growls. On many occasions I have seen jackals on leopard kills but have never seen a jackal in such a panic. Paralysis, hypnotisation, retaliation, running away from danger and other reactions of animals in stress conditions have been observed under controlled conditions on captive animals. But partially paralysed brain giving ridiculous impulses to the animal is an interesting observation in the wild.

Published in Journal of Bombay Natural History Society:

Tehsin, R. H. (1991) Behaviour of a Jackal (Canis aureus) at a Leopard (Panthera pardus) Kill. J. Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 88(1): 108

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