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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Come on then, if you think you're hard enough: Feisty jackal takes on huge lion

By Daily Mail Reporter

Sharing a drink: The jackal strolls by the lion as it bends down to sip water from a watering hole at the the Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia

When you're sat on by a large male lion you would consider yourself lucky just to escape unscathed.

But this feisty jackal appears so angry at the indignity that it attacks the king of the beasts.

The amazing sequence of pictures showing the unique encounter was captured next to a waterhole in the Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia.

Co-founder and Director of Research at Ongava Research Centre, Dr Ken Stratford told how this sort of behaviour by a jackal has never been seen before.

Oops! The enormous lion leans back and accidentally sits on the tiny jackal which yelps with surprise, throws its ears back and wriggles free from the tight squeeze

Dr Stratford said: ‘The tail end of the dry season is a time of year when the waterholes in Ongava Game Reserve are particularly busy. But no one in my team ever dreamed of seeing this.

‘One of our camera-traps had fired off a sequence of 10 shots revealing a black-backed jackal attacking a young adult male lion - in broad daylight.

‘Not only do cat and canine typically frequent waterholes at night rather than by day, we found no previous record of a jackal being so aggressive towards a lion.’

Describing the sequence of ten pictures, British-born Dr Stratford said: ‘A large but young adult male lion is taking a drink at the waterhole as a black-backed jackal passes by and as the jackal gets closer, the two animals seem to be ignoring each other.

‘The lion has sat down, presumably inadvertently squashing the passing jackal.

Unhurt, the jackal squeezes out from under the lion and rounds on him, furious at the indignity.

You're not getting away with that! The plucky jackal rears up onto its hind legs and bares its sharp teeth at the surprised lion, starting a David and Goliath showdown

The fight is on: The brave jackal refuses to be intimidated by the size of the lion and moves in close enough to grab the predator's beard in its teeth

‘The feisty jackal leaps towards the lion's face risking a side-swipe from the big cat's enormous and deadly paw before continuing to prance around the lion like an irritating wasp.

‘Ominously, the lion rises to his feet, perhaps nearing the end of his patience, towering over the jackal and it is then that the jackal appears to consider the prudence of continuing the assault.

‘Wisely, the jackal decides that the lion has learned his lesson and continues his journey around the waterhole.’

The Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia is home to some of the rarest wild animals on the planet and the Research Centre is a privately funded facility devoted to the scientific study of all parts of the ecosystem at Ongava.

Renowned for its biodiversity, Ongava Game Reserve boasts an incredible variety of fauna and flora, including successful breeding populations of both black and white rhino and one of the largest and most important breeding populations of rare black-faced impala.

With many thousands of animals to study it also provides the perfect 'living laboratory' for some serious wildlife research.

A rhino DNA study is just one element of a successful breeding programme which has seen numbers of white rhino at Ongava increase from just six in 1995 to more than thirty at present. Dr Stratford is a well respected academic with an accomplished background in neurophysiology and computer science. Born in Britain in 1954, he has spent many years living and working in South Africa, where he now resides with his family.

A passionate conservationist and trustee of the Namibian Wildlife Conservation Trust, his scientific credentials are backed by years of practical experience working in the field at Ongava, where, together with his wife Sabina, he continues to take a hands-on role in all aspects of the wildlife research.



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