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The jackal is a group of canids of the genus Canis, closely related to the wolf and the domestic dog. The golden jackal is common in India, North Africa and the Middle East, while the black-backed jackal and side-striped jackal are only native to Africa. The Ethiopian wolf, a highly endangered species of wolf, was formerly called a jackal, but a recent genetic study suggests that it is more closely related to gray wolves and coyotes.
In classic literature, the jackal is generally portrayed as a cowardly lackey or conspirator, likely owing to their natural opportunism and scavenging behavior.