First in Spain: golden jackal sighted

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golden jackal

A living golden jackal has been spotted in Spain for the first time. Naturalists see this as a sign that this smart and nocturnal canid is expanding its territory.

The golden jackal was captured on camera near the city of Zaragoza. “It is progress,” biologist Francisco García, who specialises in carnivore conservation, told the ABC newspaper. Until recently, this predator was mainly found in Asia, but in recent decades the species has spread through the Balkans to central and southwestern Europe. Now it is the turn of the Iberian Peninsula to get acquainted with this intriguing species.

Previous observations

Suspicions that jackals are roaming the Iberian Peninsula started last year. Then a specimen was found dead in Álava (Basque Country). It was no coincidence. Last February, three videos were recorded with a new specimen during one night, a few seconds apart. “I was shocked when I saw it,” says García. He was soon able to rule out whether it was a fox or a wolf. Species with which the jackal does share some characteristics.

A smart and shy survivor

The golden jackal is known for its intelligence and adaptability. These traits have allowed the animal to explore and colonise new areas far beyond its traditional habitats. The jackal is mainly a nocturnal animal and hides during the day. Its diet is varied and includes both plant foods and smaller animals, which contributes to its ability to survive in diverse environments.

People do not necessarily have to be afraid of this animal. The golden jackal is very shy and sees people as dangerous. That’s why he keeps his distance. If you do encounter a golden jackal, the same advice applies as with a wolf: stay calm and keep your distance.

Cogesa Expats

The golden jackal is between a fox and a wolf in size. It hunts hares, rabbits and small rodents, such as mice. This predator also eats remains of the prey of larger hunters, such as the wolf. But the diet of jackals is much more diverse than that of, for example, the wolf. They sometimes even eat fruit.

A future in Spain?

Experts predict that the northeast and central Iberian Peninsula will be suitable habitats for the golden jackal. This indicates a possible expansion of the species in these regions in the near future. “This is just the beginning, but there is no doubt that more will follow,” conservationists note. They see the arrival of the golden jackal in Spain as a clear sign of the ongoing changes in biodiversity and the distribution of animal species. These are partly the result of climate change and human activities.


The establishment of the golden jackal in Spain poses new challenges for conservationists and policy makers. They must closely monitor the impact of the newcomer on local ecosystems and existing species. Strategies for managing the species are also needed to protect both the jackal and native biodiversity.

Also read: Inbreeding threatens Iberian wolf

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