A few decades ago, the most common wild mammal of the Indian jungles was Jackal. Over 80% of India’s people had either seen it or were familiar with its howling.
There is an old saying that if a jackal started crying the sound reached up to the Ganges, i.e. the cry was answered by other jackal a few furlongs away and then another some distance away and so it was relayed till the banks of the mighty Ganges absorbed it. From this we can judge the density of the country’s jackal population. The jackal served us well and still performs its duty by scavenging and disposing off carcasses and offal. It prefers the jungle but is at ease near habitation also.
In the last few decades, the jackal is the only wild animal of India that was persecuted for its pelt in such large numbers. Jackals in hundreds of thousands have been killed and its voice is no longer heard.
Though the government has upgraded it and placed it in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, no systematic study has been done on this animal to increase its population. It has been neglected by the Wildlife Department of Rajasthan too. In the last census of wild animals of the sanctuaries of Southern Rajasthan, this animal was excluded.
The ecological imbalance that may have resulted from its drastic reduction is still to be evaluated.
As it is prone to rabies, the day is not far when this well-known wild animal of India will vanish from this planet.
Published in Hornbill in 1985:
Tehsin, R. H. (1985) The Plight Of Jackal. Hornbill (ed.1) pp 6
Also published in Cheetal (Journal of Wildlife Preservation Society of India) in 1984:
Tehsin, R. H. (1984) The Plight Of Jackal. Cheetal 26(2)
The upgrading of jackal from Schedule IV to Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act of India was due to the pioneering effort of the author through various newspapers and magazines.