Friday, October 30, 2009

Jackal - Maree Clarkson

I've been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details, for any artist to be good.
- Barbra Streisand

"Silver-backed Jackal" pencil sketch and watercolour in Visual 140gsm Sketchbook

I was lucky enough to rescue one of these little animals caught in a trap set on the bottom strand of a barbed wire fence a couple of years ago. I was driving along a country road in our area and saw a peculiar movement in the grass and stopped. To my dismay, I saw a little Jackal trying to free itself from a string and piece of wire around it's neck, strangling himself as he kept struggling.

As I approached carefully, he stopped struggling and took on a threatening stance, baring his teeth and growling at me trying to look very fierce through his fear, but I could see he was still only a puppy. I tried to cover him with my jacket, but he fled the length of the string to the other side of the fence.

Slowly I pulled him back through the fence and quickly grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and hastily covered him with my jacket. I managed to break the string by scuffing it on the barbed wire and undid the wire around his neck, which left a deep cut where it had been biting into his skin.

I drove home with him clamped between my legs, wrapped in the jacket and he actually lay surprisingly still. I was worried that he had died of shock or something, but once I got home and released him in one of our kennels, I saw that he was very much alive indeed. Before removing the jacket covering him, I cleaned and treated his wound, put down fresh water and closed the gate, leaving him alone for a while to recover. A while later I took him some porridge and milk, which he devoured ravenously once I had left, watching him from a distance.

Later that afternoon I fetched him from the kennel, took him inside and sat with him on the couch. His curiosity soon overcame his fear and before long he was sniffing me and everything else he saw.

This little fellow spent a couple of weeks with us, worming his way deep into our hearts and entertaining us with his antics of attacking my sheepskin slippers, pouncing on them and trying to tear them apart. Then one morning, as I went out to feed him, he was gone. He'd climbed over the 6' diamond mesh fence and although I searched our smallholding for a while, it was obvious that he was gone.

I knew I'd miss him, but wished him well and just hoped he would manage to evade the traps set by poachers and live a long, healthy life. These little animals are hunted for their beautiful pelts, as well as various body parts, which the locals use as 'muti' (medicine).

Silver-backed Jackal pup


  1. Beautiful, Maree!! Great story and tribute. Thank you for your caring heart!

  2. A wonderful story...I'm so glad there are people like you in the world, Maree. And what a lovely painting! Funny, when you hear the word "jackal" you don't think of something so sweet...

  3. Thank you Pam. A caring heart can cause one great pain, like for example I never go into pet shops or watch animal shows on National Geographic,but I've learnt to handle the heartache and get over tragedies much quicker now.

  4. Thank you Kate, and they are totally sweet, but a wild animal nonetheless. Would have released him into the wild soon enough anyway before he imprinted too much. Besides, it's illegal here to keep any wild animals, even a Crow or a Sparrow.

  5. He is totally adorable, Maree! Bless you for helping him in his time of need.

  6. Thank you Vicky, one helps and that is all we can do. Basically, we are fighting a losing battle against forces too big for even all the money in the world to sort out.

  7. To read more about Jackals, go to The Terror of Poachers on Hedgie's Joy,


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