Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 103 (1), Jan-Apr 2006 (5-12) FORAGING AND HABITAT USE BY GOLDEN JACKALS (CANIS AUREUS) IN THE BHAL REGION, GUJARAT, INDIA AMBIKA AIYADURAI AND YADVENRADEV V. JHALA
Home ranges of six Golden Jackals (Canis aureus) were estimated in and around Velavadar National Park, Gujarat using radio-telemetry, between November 2000 and December 2001. Classified LISS III digital satellite imagery in a GIS domain was used to determine available and used habitats. Each of the radio-collared Jackals was continuously tracked for 1-3 nights to determine their nocturnal ranging patterns. Jackal movement routes were plotted on a composite food index map. Mean 95% Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) and 95% Adaptive Kernel home ranges of Jackals was 14.30 (SE 4.06) sq. km and 29.77 (SE 10.99) sq. km respectively. The mean core area (75% harmonic mean) was 3.97 (SE 1.62) sq. km. Compositional Analysis showed that Jackals preferred high cover habitats for their core areas during daytime and periphery of villages during night. Jackal ranges overlapped (15.7%, SE. 8.5; range 0.24-89%), but their core areas were exclusive. Food habits of jackals as determined by scat analysis (n=150) showed that they subsisted primarily on Blackbuck (33%) and cattle (32%). Jackals were observed to travel an average of 6.8 km (SE 1.05; range 0.4-12.1) per night and their routes tracked food resources. They often visited outskirts of villages to scavenge on livestock carcasses and garbage piles. This study highlights the importance of human generated resources for carnivores like Golden Jackals. Key words: home range, Golden Jackal, Canis aureus, radio-telemetry, habitat use, ranging patterns, food habits
INTRODUCTION Golden Jackals (Canis aureus) occur in a variety of habitats from deserts to tropical evergreen forests and are also found in urban and rural areas. Their range extends from northern Africa, through the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, to Vietnam (Sheldon 1992; Jhala and Moehlman 2004). Jackals feed on small prey like hares, rodents, ground dwelling birds, and young of ungulates (Schaller 1972; Kingdon 1977). They also scavenge off kills made by large predators and on human garbage (Schaller 1972; Poche et al. 1987). Studies on the social organization, food habits, resource partitioning, economic damage, vocalizations, and cooperative breeding in jackals have been conducted primarily in Africa and Bangladesh (MacDonald 1979; McShane and Grettenberger 1984; Poche et al. 1987; Fuller et al. 1989; Jaeger et al. 1996; Jaeger et al. 2001; Moehlman 1979, 1983; Moehlman and Hofer 1997). Even though the Golden Jackal is the most common wild canid in India, little information is available on its habitat use, ranging patterns and food habits. In this paper, we present results of our study conducted between November 2000 and December 2001 on home range, habitat use, food habits and ranging patterns of Golden Jackals in Velavadar National Park and the surrounding bhal region of Gujarat, India.