Setting Baby J free

Written by Marizanne Ferreira

The skinny four-month-old Black-backed Jackal (Rooijakkels) was found, badly hurt, in the parking lot of a popular shopping centre on the 19th of January 2018. His back leg was injured, the bone and sinew exposed, and, disturbingly, a dog collar hung around his fragile neck.

Maryna Verwey noticed this sad figure hiding away and made him comfortable in a box with a blanket before her colleague, Carl Loader, took him to the Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth. What had brought him to this place no one will ever know, but he needed help – and that’s exactly what he got.

He was terrified

Once at AWS, Mariaan Browne alerted the staff to contact Arnold Slabbert, PE’s wildlife “guru”. (

Arnold and his colleague, Alison Cawood, rushed over to meet the little fella. Immediately, Arnold removed his dog collar, rendering the little boy as free as possible. The following day, I fetched Baby J, as we named him, and took him into foster care at my home. 

The little boy was terrified and did not trust anything human. His leg looked awful and, despite pain medication, he was clearly in pain – and famished. After a good meal and a nap, Baby J received his first bath. It was necessary as he truly stank and had faeces stuck to his coat. 

Baby J’s leg was scheduled to be amputated on Monday the 22nd of January 2018.  

We decided to give it a go

On Sunday, I took Baby J to AWS for another injection to help with his pain. Dr Mwamba attended to him, rinsing almost 100ml of maggots from his injured leg. Despite how bad it looked, he was confident that we could save his leg.

On Monday, 22nd of January 2018, instead of an amputation, Baby J went to Dr Stephan Ferreira at Walmer Veterinary Hospital. After examining him, we decided to give it a go – we would try and save his leg. However, this meant daily trips to the vet to have his dressing changed.  

This was not always easy as Baby J was getting stronger and gaining weight and, as he became more confident, it got a little difficult to “catch” him and haul him in the car to the vet. But we were not going to give up and Baby J was certainly not giving up on his own recuperation.  

Growing into a beautiful boy

As Baby J was getting stronger and using all four of his legs, he also began exploring and, just like any puppy, he began chewing, digging holes and dragging his bedding around. I would often see him peep at me through the bedroom glass door. He was growing into a beautiful, healthy boy.  

Three days short of a month after his rescue and subsequent medical treatment by both Dr Mark and Dr Ferreira from Walmer Vet, Baby J had healed completely. On the 19th of February, exactly one month since his initial rescue, Baby J was successfully released into a safe wildlife reserve to live as he should.

So many people were taken by Baby J’s story and to thank everyone by name is just an impossible task. You know who you are.

Thank you for helping me bath him, thank you for loving him and showing him kindness; thank you for helping me getting him to the vet; thank you for assisting with his vet fees and food bill; thank you to Kragga Kamma Game Park for giving him a chance at a normal life; mostly, thank you to his rescuers who did the right thing by taking him to a place of safety and not keeping him. Wildlife are not pets!

Note: If you come across wildlife in need, know of someone selling wild animals or see people hawking animals alongside the road, contact your local animal welfare immediately.