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Caracal

Caracal - Description:
 
The caracal is the largest of the African small cats and have a very robust build. Its hindquarters are slightly higher than its shoulders. The backs of the ears are black with a sprinkling of silvery while with characteristic long tassels of black hair on the ear tips. The caracal’s ear tassels are unique among African cats. The coat is think, short and soft; color varies with locality. In the south, the coast is silver grey, sandy brown or brick red in the east and pinkish red in the east. The underparts are while with indistinct spotting or blotching. The face is marked with black markings near the base of the whiskers, the inside of corners of the eyes to the nose and above the eyes. The tail is short, only reaching the hocks, same color as the body. The caracal’s claws are retractable. Adults measure 40-45 cm at the shoulder. Total length of 1,1-1,27 m (males) and 1-1,22 m (females). Average head and body length of 87 m (males) and 82 cm (females). Average weight 13kg (males) and 10kg (females).
 
 
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 Caracal – Habits, Behavior and Social Organization:
 
Caracals are predominately nocturnal, but may be seen at dusk and dawn. They are solitary, probably territorial animals, although this may vary with habitat and locality or during mating season or when females are accompanied by kittens. Home ranges in Eastern Cap Province 15-65 km2, West Coast NP, Male 27 km2, female 7,4 km2, Kalahari 308 km2, southern West Cape, females 18,2 km2, males 48 km2. Young males can disperse up to 180km from place of birth. 
            
Caracal  – Diet and Hunting:
 
Hunting behavior is classically feline: prey detected by sight or sound, stalked and rushed from close range and pounced on and killed with a bight to the neck or throat. Fur is plucked from the animals; guts are not removed, unlike a leopard. Prey may be dragged under cover and if undisturbed, a caracal may return to a kill. Their diet consists mainly of mammals up to the size of medium-sized antelope weighting about 40kg: Steenbok, Springbok, and others. They can eat small carnivores, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. 
 
Caracal – Reproduction and Offspring:
Gestation: 78-81 days. Litter size: 1-4 cubs. Cubs are born blind weighing 250 grams. Full-grown at 10 months. Sexually mature at 14 months (in captivity). Usually born in summer (October-February). Eyes open at 6-10 days. Kittens may be born in burrows excavated by other species, in rock crevices or dance vegetation. Occasionally killed by larger predators. 
 
Caracal - Adaptations:
Extra strong hind limbs used for jumping over 4 meters high. 
 
Caracal – Population and Distribution:
Widespread in subregion but absent from of KwaZulu-Natal and the Namib coast strip. Occurs widely in the rest of Africa, but absent from equatorial forest, and extends into Middle East and as far east as India. 
 
Caracal Population in Namibia:
Current population estimates for caracals in Namibian are unknown. However the research organization, Conservation CATalyst is conducting research to answer this question. 
 
Caracal – Conservation Status:
Currently listed as Least Concern with an unknown population trend. 
 
 

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