Using detailed field study observations of the side–striped jackal (Canis adustus) and a simple stochastic model of the transmission dynamics of the virus and host demography, we discuss the epidemiology of rabies virus infection in the jackal population of Zimbabwe. Of the two jackal species in Zimbabwe, the other being the black–backed jackal (Canis mesomelas), the bulk of notified rabies cases are in side–striped jackals. Specifically, we show that the side–striped jackal population itself does not seem able to support rabies infection endemically, i.e. without frequent reintroduction from outside sources of infection. We argue that this is probably because the overall average jackal population density is too low to maintain the chain of infection. This study suggests that the disease is regularly introduced to jackals by rabid dogs from populations associated with human settlements. Given the rapidly rising dog population in Zimbabwe, estimates are derived of the future incidence of jackal rabies based on different dog vaccination scenarios.