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Caracal (African) - caracal caracal

Caracals, are in the Lynx family and have been classified in the same genus as lynx (Lynx) and also with the other small cats (Felis). Caracals are known and called by many names which come from their many subspecies such as the African Caracal, Asian Caracal, African Lynx, Persian Lynx, Caracal Lynx or Desert Lynx. Some other more widely recognized members of the Lynx family include the North American Bobcat, the Canadian Lynx and the larger Siberian Lynx. This handsome cat has dense short reddish-brown fur. Under parts of the chin and body are white in color and Caracals have a narrow black line which runs from the corner of the eye to the nose. Although closely related to the Lynx, it is smaller in stature and has a much longer tail. Caracal is a Turkish word meaning "black eared". They are capable of tremendous aerial acrobatic jumps. Caracals have the claim to fame of being the "fastest of all the small cats".

Like the other lynx species, the Caracal possess a very unique distinguishing physical feature. Its ears are long, narrow and tipped with long black tufts of black hair on top of each ear. These notorious long "ear tufts" can be as long as 3 inches and actually serve an important purpose which helps insure the Caracals survival. In most cases, everything in nature has a purpose. In this case, not only do the ear tufts help direct sound waves into the animals ears, but they also help reduce noise created when the animals head disturbs low lying branches. This allows the Caracal to approach very close to its prey when hunting by helping silent the Caracal's approach which maximizes the probability of catching prey. In the wild, they are notorious bird hunters. They are so good at hunting birds that some African airports have been known to keep a few Caracals on the grounds as living scarecrows. The mere sight of a Caracal is enough to keep birds away. In case some of you have no clue on why birds are dangerous to airports; it is because bird impacts can cause engine failures.


Caracals are native to Africa, Asia, and even certain areas of the Middle East. Although they are extremely adaptive felines, they typically inhabit savannah grasslands and low scrub bush covered terrains. The habitat of the caracal varies depending on the location within its range through parts of the Middle East and Southern Asia across into India. Like other cats found in the dry, arid desert and semi-desert locations, the Caracal can survive for extended periods without water, obtaining the necessary requirement to survive from moisture in its prey. The Caracal is usually a nocturnal hunter but displays diurnal activity particularly when preying upon birds, but will also use the twilight hours to search for prey. In typical leopard fashion, often the Caracal will pull the carcass of its kill up into the lower limb tree branches to guard its catch from hyenas and jackals where it will return to feed for several days.

Scientific Name: caracal caracal
Range & Habitat: Africa, Arabia, southern Asia, and India in the dry savannah plains, scrub and woodland areas and in the rugged mountainous terrain regions of the deserts.
Average Weight:
  Female: 11 kg - 15 kg (24 lbs - 33 lbs)
  Male: 13 kg - 20 kg (29 lbs - 44 lbs)
Size (Length):
  Female: 60cm - 92cm (2'-2" - 3'- 4") Head to Body Length with Tail an additional 1/3 of length
  Male: 80cm - 105cm (2'-'8" - 3'- 6") " " " " " " "
Diet: Caracals are primarily carnivorous. Small mammals and especially birds of all sizes. Also, the young of the hooved ungulates, especially the fawn of the impala, bush buck and other antelopes like the kudu. Caracals are also known to eat hedgehogs, lizards, mongoose, rodents, snakes and even vegetable matter and insects.
Gestation Period: 71- 79 Days.
Cub Maturity: Full Maturity at 16 - 18 months, although they are often independent as early as 12 months Caracal kittens begin to eat meat early, often within 45 -60 days after birth.
Cubs Per Litter: (Varies from 1-6 cubs) Cubs are born blind and weigh between 1.2-1.5 lbs.
Lifespan: 12-18 Years
Predators: Man. Not generally under threat from game hunting or poaching. In South Africa, a significant number of Caracal are killed by farmers outside protected areas where the Caracal is known to take livestock, especially poultry.
Social Structure: Solitary, except during mating season. Male territory may sometimes overlap.
Territory Size: 67km-133km (40-80 miles)
Population (Wild): Unknown
Captive (SSP): Caracals are raised in captive breeding programs and maintained by Zoos in several countries including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Israel, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, U.S.A. and Zimbabwe.
Other Information: Caracal is a Turkish word "karakulak" which means "black ear". The Swahili Name for Caracal is "Simbamangu".
Conservation Status: CITES Appendix 1 Only the population of Asia. All others are listed on CITES Appendix 11 under category (Least Concern). In southern Africa, Caracal population is of sufficient number and they are considered a threat to livestock where they are classified as problem animals with no legal protection in South Africa & Namibia. (All wildcats are listed on CITES Appendix I or II).

Caracal Subspecies Distribution Worldwide
C. c. caracal Sudan to Cape Province, South Africa
C. c. damarensis North Africa
C. c. algira Damaraland, Namibia
C. c. limpopoensis North Transvaal & Botswana
C. c. lucani Gabon
C. c. nubicus Sudan and Ethiopia
C. c. poecilictis Niger & Nigeria, West Africa
C. c. michaelis Turkmenistan
C. c. schmitzi Arabia to Central India

Caracals have seven distinct recognized subspecies altogether which are found on the continents of Africa and Asia. Two of these subspecies are found in the Asiatic part of its known range. The caracal has the highest population in South Africa and in Namibia. Populations in other areas of the continent are also believed to be sufficient in number to secure the Caracal in its present African range. Outside Africa, the Asiatic subspecies found to the eastern edge of its range through northwest India are less abundant. There is some evidence to support the theory the Turkmenian caracal, C.c. michaelis is not a separate subspecies. Some scientists believe they should be grouped with the southwest Asian subspecies, C. c. schmitzi. However, if one accepts the separate subspecies theory as valid, then the Turkmenian Caracal is considered to be rarest of the Caracal subspecies.
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