High resource availability and lack of competition have increased population of a meso-carnivore—a case study of Golden Jackal in Keoladeo National Park, India
The dynamic relationship between a species and availability of its food resource is one of the important subjects in ecology due to its universal existence and importance. We estimated the density of golden jackal (Canis aureus), assessed the food profile, and reported the food resource availability and use in Keoladeo National Park (KNP). We used distance sampling to estimate the density of golden jackal and its prey species. Scat analysis was adapted to assess the food profile of jackal. The estimated density of golden jackal is 14.84 individuals/km2. Scat analysis showed equal dominance of plant and animal matter in their diet. Remains of nilgai, rodents, chital, and feral cattle frequently occurred in the scat. The presence of wide array of food items in the diet of golden jackal ascertains its generalist habit. Among prey species, the estimated density of chital is the highest (52.37/km2) followed by feral cattle (33.66/km2). The total biomass estimate of prey species is 10,892.68 kg/km2. The ungulate species contributed a total biomass of 4833.88 kg/km2. The feral cattle alone contributed biomass density of 6058.80 kg/km2. The present study reveals highest density of golden jackal ever reported from any protected area around the world, and also lack of any major competitor and high food resource availability has led to a several fold increase in the population size of golden jackal in a span of 3 decades.