A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World
The Caracal Lesson
July 22, 2010Posted by on
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.