Romania – Golden Jackals

With support from Fauna & Flora International, we spent 2 weeks in August 2021 recording golden jackals (Canis aureus) in the Parcul Natural Lunca Mureșului, Romania.

The fieldwork element was conducted by myself and Lizzie Bru with help from the Park’s rangers. We had a chaotic couple of weeks cycling around deploying and checking our acoustic recorders in all weathers and times of day, but it was definitely worth it! From our very first night when we conducted our first ever jackal howling survey, we were treated to the crazy and eerie sound of jackals howling. In fact, we heard jackals either in person or on our recorders every night of the survey! Here’s a sneak peak of some jackals howling:

For this survey we deployed 10 recorders spaced 800-1000m from each other. The recorders are called CARACALs and were designed by our colleagues at the University of Oxford.

Inside of a CARACAL recorder fixed to a tree during the survey

We’re currently working on processing and analysing the data to find howls that were picked up on three or more recorders. When this happens, we can use the time difference in the arrival of the sound at difference recorders to localise the source. In simple terms, this means we can pinpoint where the jackals are howling from. Although this was just a short 2-week pilot study, the aim of this research is to develop an efficient and effective method for passive acoustic monitoring and acoustic localisation of golden jackals. With jackals rapidly spreading across Europe, this is an important development in jackal monitoring that will enable the early detection and tracking of dispersing individuals, as well as helping to behavioural ecology questions such as jackal habitat preferences and interactions with other species e.g. grey wolves.

Not only did we hear the jackals, but we saw them on several occasions too!

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