PhD student, Nathan Ranc (Moorcroft Lab) studies wildlife movement ecology. Nathan's work - supported by the Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy - follows the staggering expansion of the golden jackal. Ranc and Miha Krofel, a conservation biologist at the University of Ljubljana, lead 37 volunteers — scientists and naturalists — in monitoring the golden jackal throughout Europe. Ranc and Krofel's research was recently covered by the New York Times.
Reporter, James Gorman followed along as the team searched for jackals in Slovenia. At a population of 117,000, jackals greatly outnumber Europe's wolves, estimated around 17,000. The medium-sized predator has peaked scientific interest in Europe as they begin to assess the ecological issues of such a huge expansion. Native to the Middle East and southern Asia, jackals arrived at the southern edge of Central and Eastern Europe about 8,000 years ago. The current increase in populations began in the 1950s and has accelerated over the past 20 years due to the targeted campaigns to eradicate wolves, particularly in the Balkans.