The local black-backed jackals of the Kgalagadi have spared their dignity in order to master the art of catching birds at resident watering holes. From dripping wet jackals to face-planting and feathers, it is shear entertainment for all.
Each morning at the Cubitje Quap water hole it was the same: two resident jackal would be there ready and waiting for the sandgrouse and doves to come and drink, in the hope of grabbing a meal on the wing. They would wonder around the waterhole as if they were just sniffing around, and then next minute, dart off in the direction of the dam to try and catch a sandgrouse. More often than not they were successful and would walk away with breakfast. Other times they missed and would land up in the dam, only to get out on the other side, shake themselves off and look back as if to say how did I miss that!
The jackal at Cubitje Quap had a very different strategy to the jackal I watched at Kwang. The jackal at Kwang (this one was my favourite) was clever. He would watch the watering hole intensely through the shadow of a fallen tree, analysing the best time to strike. When the time was right he would walk very slowly to the end of the tree stump and then run full tilt for his target. When he did miss he would shake off the water and dust, only to get back in the trenches to try again.
What really amazed me about these jackal was their commitment. They would just go back and try over and over again until they succeeded. To me that was a valuable lesson – one can’t just give up after trying something once or even twice.