The caracal (Felis caracal)
The Caracal (Felis caracal) is the largest African lesser cat, an exceptional climber and jumper. It is a slender built cat with long legs and a short, sharply tapered tail. The Caracal resembles a cross between a leopard and a lynx. Its coat is reddish-brown with distinctive tufted ears and white markings around its eyes and on its throat, chin, and belly.
The Caracal is a skilled hunter and is literally able to “snatch” a bird out of the air. It has a powerful build and a leapord-like bark. Excellent tree climbers, they will drag and take their prey into a tree to be eaten. away from other predators.
Found in open, dry country from semi-desert to savanna. They hide and sleep in crevices among rocks and fallen trees. In Uganda, the Caracal occurs only in Kidepo National Park but it is widespread and common throughout South Africa.
The caracal stands 16 – 20 inches at the shoulder and weighs 40 to 45 pounds.
It feeds on rodents, small antelope, hares and birds and sometimes eats sheep and goats. It is mainly active in the morning and evening although during the hottest months it hunts at night. It can survive for long periods without drinking as most of the moisture it needs comes from the tissue fluids of its prey.
These African lesser cats are mostly nocturnal creatures, secretive and solitary. When cornered they become extremely aggressive. As a result of being hunted by farmers (as they prey on small livestock), they have became even more elusive and the possibily of seeing them has become fairly difficult.
Sexual maturity occurs at about 20 months, gestation is 70 to 78 days and between 1 to 4 young are born and can live up to 12 years in the wild, up to 20 years in captivity.
They are hunted and killed by humans (farmers, because of predation on their livestock), lions and hyenas.
Ref: Avgan, B., Henschel, P. & Ghoddousi, A. 2016. Caracal caracal (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3847A102424310.