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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jackals in Latvia

by Ovidiu C Banea

On 26th of December 2013 jackal female was removed by hunter near Jelgava close to Lielupe River in central Latvia. (The news appeared on 9th of January 2014, click on image below).


This news is not surprising GOJAGE, as we have already estimated this dispersal route in spring 2013 after BALTICA 2013, wildlife survey in Matsalu Natural Park West Estonia, when we tried to explain jackal dispersal movements for this region.


And why a dispersal movement so elusive and chaotic at first sight? Is not at all in my opinion. If we look around Jelgava, the hunting terrain where this report have been done, we can easy observe that again, as in Matsalu case, we found one of the most important locations for migrating water birds in terms of rest and feeding in Latvia, which is the Svēte flood-land, which overflows in the spring time, along with the Svēte polder. It has been calculated that when circumstances are good, tens of thousands of birds can be seen in the area – swans, geese, corn-crakes, pintails, predatory birds, plover-type birds, etc. This is Svetes paliene Nature Park.
Canis aureus, first specimen removed in Latvia
Canis aureus and Vulpes vulpes

Experience shows now, that sumation of hunting terrains (high anthropogenic pressure as favoring biological resources and drill cuttings after hunting session) in winter together with wetlands where waders, geese, migratory birds are seen or where they are hunting birds, which produce easy prey like birds shot down by hunters and uncollected, represents the stepping stones most used by jackals for their large dispersal and elusive movements to the limit of their homerange. If we add bad management of waste dumps and abandoned cattle and livestock in open fields without being closed, with the loss of placentas in spring we have to be ready to find jackal as new mammals species on this natural areas.
But not only jackals are moving their homerange. Birds also, example is this Himantopus photographed by Janis Kuze on Lake Lubans in Latvia in 2013.
I saw it last week on Llobregat River Delta, small delta near Barcelona. From our observations, jackals have been recorded in areas with waders such as lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) in Danube Delta (here)
 Black-winget Stilt Himantopus himantopus Delta of Llobregat Barcelona
GOJAGE members observed Phasianus sp, Hoopoe Upupa epops, European Roller Coracias garrulus and other ground nesting birds in jackal core areas in Peljesac Peninsula Croatia, Evros Delta or Danube Delta. 
Knowing that jackals are not good hunters, being more opportunistic, I suggest waterfowls are more suitable to be part of jackal diet, especially Pelicans and Cormorants carcasses (personal observations) but an exhaustive study addressed to the topic of predation on ground nesting birds should be considered in future, before any measure of management which incriminates jackal species as being responsible of ecosystem disturbances where it is still catallogated as allochtonous species.


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