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“Rapid Expansion” of the Golden Jackal in Greece Documented by Scientists

golden jackal in Greece
A golden jackal pictured in Central Macedonia, Northern Greece, in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Nature Videos / CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have identified a “rapid and extensive range expansion” of the golden jackal species in Greece, according to a new scientific paper published last month.

In recent years, the golden jackal has been struggling in Greece and was listed as endangered in the country. However the trend towards recovery of the species in Europe also seems to be true of Greece, where larger numbers of golden jackals have been observed.

As a part of their research, the scientists suggested a range of conservation methods to ensure that the golden jackal continues to make a strong comeback.

Golden jackal range increases in Greece

Greece is the southernmost area in Europe where the species can be found. Like other European populations, the golden jackals in Greece faced a significant decline in population and distribution during the late 20th century. This decline was mainly due to human predation, resulting in the jackals being restricted to only seven fragmented areas in the country.

However, the authors of the recent study, which appeared in the academic journal Endangered Species Research last month, noted “a rapid expansion of approximately 320% of the golden jackal range in Greece in less than 5 jackal generations.”

The presence of golden jackals was recorded in the northern, western, southern
and central parts of the Greek mainland, as well as on the island of Euboea. An increase in the populations present in neighboring countries like North Macedonia and Albania has also been noted by other researchers.

Members of the species are more likely to be found in parts of the country with wetlands, arable land, and permanent crops, whereas the presence of wolves appears to act as a deterrent.

Other factors, such as the “percentage of pastures and grasslands, terrain roughness and annual precipitation,” were noted to be of less importance.

Conservation efforts

The recent findings are encouraging, but the authors of the study noted that efforts need to be made to ensure that the proper conservation measures are taken, especially to avoid conflict between members of the species and humans.

According to the researchers, current legal protection covers only 22.6% of the potential priority conservation areas for the golden jackal in Greece. Among these protected areas, 23.8% are deemed suitable for targeted management actions.

The researchers have suggested several measures for the protection of the species in Greece. For example, they propose the establishment of a permanent monitoring scheme for golden jackals in Greece, like the one already created for bears in the country.

Moreover, the researchers argue that “Creating new areas for the conservation of the species in the country will require a thorough understanding of habitat suitability and connectivity, which is not available at the moment. Acquiring it should be considered a conservation priority for this species.”

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