Do wildlife crimes against less charismatic species go unnoticed? A case study of Golden Jackal Canis aureus Linnaeus, 1758 poaching and trade in India

Main Article Content

Malaika Mathew Chawla
Arjun Srivathsa
Priya Singh
Iravatee Majgaonkar
Sushma Sharma
Girish Punjabi
Aditya Banerjee


Wildlife crimes pertaining to lesser-known species do not usually garner adequate focus or interest by enforcement and conservation agencies.  Additionally, illegal wildlife trade fuelled by religious beliefs in sorcery and superstition is an oft-neglected field of research.  To draw attention to these two broad issues, we provide a baseline analysis of open-source reports on Golden Jackal Canis aureus poaching and trade in India.  We highlight the pervasiveness of an active local and transnational ‘jackal horn’ trade, which is severely under-reported and insufficiently researched.  News reports and government seizure data reveal that, between 2013 and 2019, 126 skins, eight tails, more than 370 ‘jackal horns’, 16 skulls and two live jackals have been seized.  The demand for the illusionary ‘jackal horn’ appears to be driven by extensive online endorsement and unsubstantiated claims made by religious practitioners, targeted primarily at south Asian markets.  This preliminary study is an urgent call for concerted efforts to monitor the illegal trafficking and trade of this common species, with a particular focus on the demand and supply chains.

Article Details

Conservation Applications


Ahmed, A. (2010). Imperilled custodians of the night: a study of the illegal trade, trapping and utilization of owls in India. Traffic India/WWF India, 76pp.

Aiyadurai, A. (2011). Wildlife hunting and conservation in northeast India: a need for an interdisciplinary understanding. International Journal of Galliformes Conservation 2: 61–73.

Alves, R.R., I.L. Rosa, N.A. Léo Neto & R. Voeks (2012). Animals for the gods: magical and religious faunal use and trade in Brazil. Human Ecology 40(5): 751–780. DOI:

Bhattacharya, S. & A. Koch (2018). Hatha jodi: an illegal trade of misused scientific facts. Biawak 12(2): 97–99. Retrieved from

Borah, M.P. & S.B. Prasad (2016). Ethnozoological remedial uses by the indigenous inhabitants in adjoining areas of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam, India. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 8(4): 90–96.

Branch, T.A., A.S. Lobo & S.W. Purcell (2013). Opportunistic exploitation: an overlooked pathway to extinction. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28(7): 409–413. DOI:

Damania, R., E.J. Milner-Gulland & D.J. Crookes (2005). A bioeconomic analysis of bushmeat hunting. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 272(1560): 259–266. DOI:

D’Cruze, N., S. Bhagat, T. Morrison, J. Schmidt-Burbach, D.W. Macdonald & A. Mookerjee (2015). A star attraction: the illegal trade in Indian Star Tortoises. Nature Conservation 13: 1–19. DOI:

Djagoun, C.A., E.A. Sogbohossou, B. Kassa, H.A. Akpona, I.O. Amahowe, J. Djagoun & B. Sinsin (2018). Trade in primate species for medicinal purposes: implications for conservation. TRAFFIC Bulletin 30(2). 48–56.

Hansen, A.L.S., A. Li, D. Joly, S. Mekaru & J.S. Brownstein (2012). Digital surveillance: a novel approach to monitoring the illegal wildlife trade. PLoS ONE 7(12). DOI:

Hilaluddin, K.R. & D. Ghose (2005). Conservation implications of wild animal biomass extractions in Northeast India. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 28: 169–179.

IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) (2019). IUCN’s views on the structure of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Accessed on September 2, 2019.

Jensen, A. (2009). Shifting Focus: Redefining the goals of sea turtle consumption and protection in Bali. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection 753. Retrieved from

Lavorgna, A. (2014). Wildlife trafficking in the Internet age. Crime science 3: 5. DOI:

Mendiratta, U., V. Sheel & S. Singh (2017). Enforcement seizures reveal large-scale illegal trade in India’s tortoises and freshwater turtles. Biological Conservation 207: 100–105. DOI:

Niraj, S.K., P. R. Krausman & V. Dayal (2012). A stakeholder perspective into wildlife policy in India. Journal of Wildlife Management 76(1): 10–18.

Rajpoot, A., V.P. Kumar, A. Bahuguna, T. Singh, S. Joshi & D. Kumar (2018). Wildlife forensics in battle against veneration frauds in Uttarakhand, India: identification of protected Indian monitor lizard in items available in the local market under the name of Hatha Jodi. Mitochondrial DNA Part B 3(2): 925–932. DOI:

Ryan, J. & D. Attuquayefio (2000). Mammal fauna of the Muni-Pomadze Ramsar site, Ghana. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 541–560. DOI:

Sahajpal, V., S.P. Goyal, R. Raza & R. Jayapal (2009). Identification of mongoose (genus: Herpestes) species from hair through band pattern studies using discriminate functional analysis (DFA) and microscopic examination. Science & Justice 49(3): 205–209. DOI:

Scheffers, B.R., B.F. Oliveira, I. Lamb & D.P. Edwards (2019). Global wildlife trade across the tree of life. Science 366: 71–76. DOI:

Sigouin, A., M. Pinedo-Vasquez, N. Robert, C. Poole, B. Horne & T.M. Lee (2017). Priorities for the trade of less charismatic freshwater turtle and tortoise species. Journal of Applied Ecology 345–350. DOI:

Van den Bergh, M.O., K. Kusters & A.J. Dietz (2013). Destructive attraction: factors that influence hunting pressure on the Blue Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea rudolphi. Bird Conservation International 23(2): 221–231. DOI:

Most read articles by the same author(s)