The African Caracal Cat

  This week we look at an animal that may not be familiar to you or me, but is well known to many on the continent of Africa, the creature
17 Sep 2016 10:21
The African Caracal Cat
jay Bhai Amrit about to feed the Caracal.


This week we look at an animal that may not be familiar to you or me, but is well known to many on the continent of Africa, the creature is called a Caracal.

On first inspection you may feel like you have seen this creature somewhere before and you would be correct. Caracals have appeared regularly during the ancient Egyptian times, they have had a significant religious role to play and were seen in paintings and statues during that time. In fact they were believed to guard the Pharaohs who were Kings. Even today you can see giant size sculptures of these animals guarding the famous Pharaoh tombs in Cairo, Egypt.

The Caracal belongs to the cat family and can grow to about half a metre in height and 20 kilogrammes in weight  making it much bigger than a domesticated cat but about half the weight and size of a Cheetah. It lives in the wild and preys on sheep, goats, birds, rabbits and even antelope if they can catch one. Its speed and agility make it an efficient hunter, able to take down prey two to three times its size.

It can leap higher than three metres and catch birds in mid-air. It stalks its prey until it is within five metres of it, after which it runs it down, the prey being killed by a bite to the throat or to the back of the neck.

They have very sharp canines which are up to two centimetres long and are heavy and pointed which are used to give the killing bite to the prey.

Caracal’s can live to about 15 years and sometimes known to live as long as 20 years which is very long time indeed in the animal kingdom.

My first encounter with this animal was during feeding time and seeing the size of it I had no fear at all, fast forward to me giving the Caracal some food, suddenly from this docile and very approachable animal it turned into a hissing and threatening creature as it deemed me as the one keeping it from the food it was about to enjoy.

At that point I decided to let the animal enjoy its feed in peace, but once again it goes to prove these animals are not domesticated and can revert to their natural demeanour which is to be hostile when feeling threatened.

There have been cases of Caracals attacking humans but this is a rarity and is probably done as a last option if it feels threatened or its offspring are in danger.

As opposed to all the other animals I have interacted with and written about there is good news when it comes to the Caracal and its future in Africa and beyond.

The caracal is categorised as not endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). In Africa the main threat to the survival of the caracal is habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and desertification.

Looking back at my trip to Africa and engaging with the caracal, I found it to be a very sleek and nimble creature, its coat is very smooth and not rough like some of the other cats. It is also extremely alert and will respond to any sound whether it thinks it is prey or being hunted itself.

In fact it is quite amazing to watch how attentive and responsive they are to any one or any sounds in the vicinity.

Finally, I do hope you have enjoyed these various articles on some magnificent creatures from the animal kingdom in South Africa and also hope that in some small manner I have managed to bring to life and inform you a little bit about their habitat and way of life.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

The writer is Fiji Sun’s columnist



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