AN animal rehabilitation centre in Howick released five jackals back into the wild after they were found abandoned nearly a year ago as young pups.FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre manager Rosalind Marais said the jackals were found in both Ixopo and Greytown after people heard them whining in burrows. Female jackals usually give birth in a burrow of up to two metres in length.“We think their mothers were killed. [The pups] were just six weeks old when they came in,” said Marais.But she said the pups were old enough not be bottle fed, lessening the opportunity for them becoming dependent or familiar with humans.“We purposely do not name the animals which come into the centre as they are always for release unless they are endangered and they are put into a breeding programme.” Now at nine months old, the jackals were released into the Somkhanda Game Reserve near Pongola yesterday. “On two of them we have placed radio collars to monitor their movements. They have initially been placed in bomas, previously used to release wild dogs into the same area.“Last year we released six serval and a further three this year which are being satellite tracked.“Right now we are waiting to release wildebeest and duiker. Generally during the fire season we do not release animals.” — Witness Reporter.