25 September 2007

J for Jackal

I do not have any photos of jackals but took this picture about three years ago when Sue and I were travelling in the karoo between Sutherland and Calvinia, on our way to see the flowers of Namaqualand. Jackal pelts strung up on the fence next to the road.

This was a very grim reminder of the ongoing battle between sheep farmers and jackals. It is also a testimony to the remarkable survival skills of the black backed jackal. In spite of constant persecution and jackal proof fencing they survive against all odds.

For those of you who have been reading my blogs, you may have noticed by now that I am a keen consevationist. At one time in my life I was a hunter and would be the first in line to seek and destroy vermin. At the age of 19 two incidents changed that.

The first was when I was about to shoot a buck that was causing damage in our lands. As I was about to squeeze the trigger something made me put on the safety catch and declare, "I can't do this". I have never looked back.

The second was an incident with a pair of black backed jackals. Any farmer will tell you they are vermin and will go to great lengths to destroy them. Jackals have been persecuted to such an extent that from being diurnal animals they have become nocturnal. My parents had an irrigation farm and at one time grew the most delicious watermelons. Believe it or not, the jackals loved water melons. They had an uncanny knack of finding the best ones, scratching them open with their claws and eating the inside.

Farmers are very possesive of their land, livestock and crops - and not being an exception to the rule I went out one night with a torch and a rifle, "to bag me a jackal".

Imagine the scene. It is pitch dark. There is no moon and I walk as quietly as I can to the lands. When I get there I turn the torch on and quickly pick up the gleaming eyes of a pair of jackals. As I lift the rifle to my shoulder they disappear. No problem, I am patient, I have all night. So I sit down and wait. After about ten minutes I turn the torch on again and there not fifty metres from me are the two jackals, sitting on their haunches watching me.

They did not wait around too long and quickly melted into the night.

Something about the situation amused me. I had just seen a new side to jackals that I liked. The next morning I told my parents that we had plenty of watermelons and that I was sure we could spare a few for the jackals.


Neva said...

What a great shot....I am not sure I would have recognizes what they were!

WalksFarWoman said...

Gruesome 'J' Max - but a great one nevertheless.

It's so refreshing to find the hunter turned conservationist although I quite understand the need for pest control when your livelihood is affected.

I have a great affinity for wolves and don't know whether I'm pleased or sad that they're thinking of reintroducing them into the wilds of Scotland. From what used to be a case of culling or killing for food seems to have developed into a sport.

Am anticipating your 'K' already.:)

Max-e said...

I had to look twice as we drove past Neva, before I recognised what they were. Reminiscent of the gibbet

Max-e said...

Hi WalksFarWoman,
Whoever put these on the fence was certainly intent on making a point.
There is a wolf rehabilitation centre at Knysna about 250 kms from here. I find this intriguing as wolves are not endemic to South Africa. I have never visited it but will pop in one day.
Is the reintroduction of the wolves is for canned hunting.
Breeding lions for canned hunting became popular here, but it has been banned

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

"Canned hunting". I have never heard that term before, but it certainly seems very apt. You gave a glimpse in to your soul with this one, and it looks to be a good one.. lovely post, my friend.

mrsnesbitt said...

Heartwarming, beautiful.


photowannabe said...

Great story and an interesting look at jackles. Thanks for the information and the reasons for your philosphy.

dot said...

Very interesting post about jackals and I also enjoyed the story about Buster.

Thanks for the photography tips!

Anna said...

Max-e glad you changed. I can only kill an insect, and even then sometimes I just let them out the house, lol. Anna :)

Mike said...

That's a terrible site to see, even so it's a good photo.

Peter said...

OK, as a conservationist you may not find this pun funny but it reminds me of jeckyll (jackal) and Hide (pelt) but seriously what a gruesome scene but a record of the occasion. Not sure who jeckyll and hide are check out Wikipedia

Max-e said...

Hi Shrink Wrapped Scream, 'Canned Hunting" was a reality. Breed the the game in cages - release them into the wild at hunting season and the "intrepid" hunter walks up and shoots it. Fortunately the practice has been outlawed.

Max-e said...

Thanks for your comments MrsN

Thanks for stopping by photowannabe. Glad it was of interest.

Hi Dot, thanks for comments. There is some good literature on digital photography and if you are able to play with the settings, you can get some amazing effects, but your pics are amazing already.

Max-e said...

Hi Anna
It only took me 19 years to get there, but I had to go through a process. I now only shoot with the camera.
Insects...there I am not understanding with mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches....... bring out the Doom

Max-e said...

Yes it is terrible Mike, but even though I wont kill jackals I understand where the farmer is coming from. I have seen some gruesome things done by jackals.
But I like them and they do not affect my livelihood.

Max-e said...

Hi Peter, LOL. Why did I not think of that one - that is life. We always seem to be able to see the funny in most situations. I sometimes think it is a human coping mechanism.

karoline said...

we're all here for the same reason..you were a wise old soul to have discovered that at your young age..


Max-e said...

Hi Karoline
Some of the most ardent conservationists started out as hunters. I guess that I had to go through that process to become who I am.

Kris McCracken said...

I followed the link from the Ararat Daily Photo site and just thought that I'd say that I really enjoyed this post.

Max-e said...

Chris I am glad you enjoyed it. I did eventually get some jackal pics, which can be accessed by clicking on the jackal label