International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

The Caracal Lesson

The Caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium sized wild cat with distinctive black ear tuffs.  Due to this feature, the Caracal was at one time classified with the Lynx but this was later clarified based on molecular evidence.  Caracals have a wide range, spanning from Africa to Central and Southwest Asia into India.  As of 2008, the IUCN categorized the Caracal as being of “Least Concern.”  This categorization has been consistent since 1996.

The Caracal’s top threats are habitat destruction and persecution as they are able to kill small livestock.  Although hunting of Caracals is prohibited through out certain countries in Africa, the Caracal is considered a problem animal in Namibia and South Africa. In fact, if one googles Caracal, several results come up for Caracal hunting expeditions, primarily in South Africa.

The Living Desert (located in Palm Desert, California) supports the international studbook and Population Management Plan for the Caracal.  With the exception of the populations located in South Africa and Israel, the Caracal has not been well studied. Hopefully, it doesn’t take a drastic decline in numbers to encourage research and conservation efforts.

One farmer, Charles Marais, is definitely doing his part to expedite the decline of the Caracal in South Africa.  As reported by 50/50, a South African television show, Marais viciously persecutes Caracals.  He has several cases against him for illegally holding wildlife and supplying Caracals for canned hunts.  He catches Caracals and then uses the captured Caracals’ feces and urine for future traps and captures.

This perceived animal versus human conflict is one possible outcome of environments where animals aren’t protected and husbandry and conservation are not valued.  This is a similar situation to the Leopard-Human conflict raging in India where on a daily basis another death is added to either the Leopard or Human toll.

Historically, people have not had the foresight to maintain healthy populations of wild cats.  While Caracal numbers are currently strong in most areas, conservation programs are needed that address the necessities of humans without the decline of the Caracal.  Vision and planning are the lessons to be learned from the Caracal.

So although the Caracal has a substantial population and may not be considered threatened or vulnerable by the IUCN, don’t let that fool you into thinking that this will always be the case.  Caracals still need research, protection and conservation.  The Caracal Project is one such endeavor.  Click on the link to learn more.

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2 responses to “The Caracal Lesson

  1. Raul July 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    It must be remmembered that in South Africa for the past 50 years or more the Caracal was known as the R75 (seventy five rand cat) which meant that everytime you killed a caracal
    you could get R75 (about USDOL10) for it, from the authorities.
    The story of Marais as reported by 50/50 has a lot more to be said than what was reported, as
    South Africa has a lot of political issues with the conservation and management of animals in captivity.
    As an example In South Africa you are not allowed to breed Black Foot Cats as it is
    “Bad for Conservation” and animal activists control and dominate Nature Conservation in some provinces namelly in Gauteng (where Johannesburg and Pretoria are situated and where most
    of the economic activity takes place)

  2. Lorna Grant July 26, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Charles Marais states that he has killed 400 caracals in 1 year. Although I do not know what their numbers actually are in the wild, I cannot imagine that the species can withstand that rate of depletion. And that is by just one individual – there are many out there wanting to see all caracals dead. For myself, I have known and loved caracals, both as individuals and as wild creatures, for longer than I care to remember. For me, they are like leopards: secretive, fiercely independent, utterly beautifu – the vital spirit of wild, remote places. I wish I could make them all safe – not one should be killed because farmers are too lazy to protect their livestock.

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