Archipelagos Institute participated in the 14th International Congress on the Zoogeography and Ecology of Greece and Adjacent Regions (ICZEGAR) that took place last week in Thessaloniki. There we presented the important effort that has been underway for the past year and a half to manage the population of Golden Jackals residing within the area of Samos International Airport.

Archipelagos Institute is in cooperation with Fraport Greece to sustainably manage and safely remove the jackals from the airport area. Samos Airport has been built on a wetland that is one of the natural habitats of the Golden Jackal. A possible collision between a Golden Jackal and an aircraft could result in the animal being killed as well as serious damage caused to the aircraft. The project of gradual and mild relocation of the Golden Jackal population from Samos Airport is a world-first and aims to become an international model for the management of large mammals in airport spaces, balancing the need for flight safety and the principles of environmental protection.

It is notable that Samos Island is home to the only surviving insular Golden Jackal population in Greece, one of the very few on European land. This population is genetically unique compared to other Golden Jackal populations in the Balkans, as demonstrated by the research that Archipelagos Institute was a part of and was published in the scientific journal PlosOne found here. It is also a rare case exception for a large mammal that lives on the boundaries of human settlements to largely go unnoticed (except for their howls) and to not cause disruption to humans, livestock or pets.

Golden Jackals are active during the night, however, during the day they hide in burrows or nests, either in dense vegetation or in small underground tunnels. As can be seen in Archipelagos’ recent scientific publication, the Golden Jackal of Samos feeds mainly on plant matter (olives, berries, wild figs) and on small rodents, such as mice, especially during the winter months. The population of jackals on Samos Island offers significant ecosystem services to the island’s ecology, limiting the spread of rodents and contributing to the protection of crops and natural reforestation processes.

The fact that a small number of people still try to deliberately kill these rare animals is a serious concern to the island’s community and us all.

Click below to see video footage of Golden Jackals captured by camera traps as part of the project of sustainable management of Golden Jackals at Samos International Airport:
Click here to read a related article on Golden Jackals.