The diet of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) was studied in 2002 and 2003 in Park Britannia (ca. 4000 ha) in central Israel. The aim of the study was to understand the kinds of anthropogenic food that allow jackals to be present at a high density. The scats (396 in total) were classified by season: summer (June–September) or autumn (October–November) as well as by origin from either the southern or northern part of the study area, which experience different levels of human pressure. The main food category was ungulates (39.4% frequency of occurrence), 80% of which were domestic animals — which we assume were mostly consumed as carrion. Other common food types included fruit (31.3%), birds (30%), small mammals (23.5%) and invertebrates (21.2%), while garbage was found in only 9.1% of the scats. Biomass of the jackal diet was dominated by ungulates (67.3%), with domestic ungulates consumed mostly as carrion, comprising 84% of the total. Jackal diet did not differ by season or level of human pressure. However, there was remarkable micro-scale variability in food composition as the summer jackal diet differed significantly among the dens. Our results suggest that the high availability of domestic animal carcasses due to the local carrion disposal system may be responsible for the present jackal density in Israel.
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