From Sanskrit to Persian, then to Turkish, and later to French, before reaching Spanish. That was the etymological path of the jackal, a concept that refers to a mammalian animal that is part of the family group of canids.
Jackals are carnivorous and scavenging predators, similar to wolves in physical characteristics, although with a tail reminiscent of foxes. These animals reside in different regions of Africa and Asia.
Thanks to their curved canine teeth and long legs, they can hunt and hunt reptiles, birds and even small mammals. Jackals have the ability to run at high speed for long periods of time.
It is important to highlight this particularity of jackals, since some of the fastest mammals in the world, such as the cheetah (a species that holds the first place in speed), must take long breaks after each chase, regardless of whether they have managed to catch to their potential prey.
Jackals generally move alone or in pairs. Sometimes, however, groups of these canids form around the carrion.
The Canis aureus is the common jackal. It can grow to be just over a meter long, with a height of up to 50 centimeters and a weight that can be around 15 kilograms. The side-striped jackal (striped jackal) and Canis mesomelas (backed Jackal black) are other species of jackal.
Jackal pairs can last a lifetime, as they are animals with a tendency to monogamy. Once they establish their territory, they vigorously defend it from their contenders, and go to great lengths to remind onlookers that they shouldn’t put their paws on it. With regard to the dimensions of the territory, it can become large enough to raise its little ones until they are old enough to leave and start their own families.
In colloquial language, a person who is aggressive, bloodthirsty and unscrupulous is often called a jackal, resulting in danger or harm to society. Josef Fritzl, for example, is known as “The Jackal of Amstetten”: he is a man who kept his own daughter kidnapped for twenty-four years, whom he systematically raped and with whom he had seven children.
Given the beauty of this animal and the admiration for its abilities, it is not surprising that its image has given rise to many works of fiction, both for children and adults. From books to movies, in cartoons or filmed, featuring an animal or a person nicknamed “Jackal”, there are several examples.
In 1973 a movie called El día del Jackcal was released. It is a collaboration between British and French teams, directed by Fred Zinnemann and with actor Edward Fox in the leading role, “The Jackal”, a hitman who is hired by an underground organization called OAS to take the life of the president of France Charles de Gaulle. The treaty is based on the homonymous novel by Frederick Forsyth.
More than two decades later, in 1997, director Michael Caton-Jones brought a new version of the hit man story to the screen, this time produced in North America and starring Bruce Willis, Richard Gere and Sidney Poitier. In this case, the book that was taken as a reference for the creation of the script was written by Kenneth Ross. Unlike the previous one, this film did not receive very encouraging reviews, which is why it is not among the most sought after by moviegoers.