The Caracal is a small wild cat that is spread among more than 30 species in the world. It belongs to the group of mammals known as Caracal caracal in the scientific term. The Caracal belongs to the animal family of Felidae. Usually, a Caracal weighs 25 to 40 pounds and is approximately 2 feet to 3.5 feet. The Caracal lives as a solo cat, especially when they come to adulthood, and their feline is usually most active after sunset. Being an adult solo Caracal, it goes for hunting birds, gazelles, rabbits and rodents. The Caracals are primarily found in African and Asian continents.
The History and Origin of Caracal
The Caracal is a member of the Mammalia class, and it belongs to the cat family of Felidae. The Caracal is also named as Persian lynx and desert lynx. The Caracals have religious significance in ancient Egypt and were famous hunters in India. In Chinese culture, Caracals were used by the Chinese emperors as giveaway gifts. There are three subspecies of Caracals named,
- Asiatic Caracal
- Southern Caracal
- Northern Caracal
The Caracal is a cat that can be found mainly in the area conditions of semi-deserts, arid, hilly steppes, dry mountains, and dry woodlands. Therefore, Africa and the Middle East to India are the more popular access ranges for the Caracal cats. And also into South West Asia. Their habitats are true deserts and rainforests. The distribution of Caracals extends across the vast range of Africa and the Middle East. There are seven standard habitat types of Caracals as follows.
Forest- Subtropical, Tropical Dry
Shrubland– Subtropical, Tropical Dry
Grassland- Subtropical, Tropical Dry
Distribution of Caracals in the Middle East to Asia
According to the IUCN 2021 report, there have been identified regions of the distribution of Caracals in the Middle East and Southern Asia, India as follows,
- Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Syrian Arab Republic
- Asia: India, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
- Eastern Europe: Turkey
Distribution of Caracals in Africa
- North Africa: Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Western Sahara, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco
- South Africa: Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia
- West Africa: Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Togo, Senegal
- Central Africa: Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic Congo, Central African Republic
- East Africa: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Djibouti
The Caracals are also wild hunting animals and belong to the predatory animals category. The Caracals are Agile hunters who actively go hunting during dusk and night-time. The mongoose, hyraxes, rodents, monkeys, dik-diks, gazelles and rabbits are the animals that get hunted by Caracals. The animals which attack domestic livestock, like impala or young kudu, are attacked by the Caracals. This animal can leap up to 3 meters in height to catch flying birds and animals. Like other wild predatory animals, Caracals also have sharp claws, which help them to see their prey and to climb trees. They stash their catch in the branches to have it as a last meal. As the Caracals live in a wide range, they are considered the top predators in their area.
The Caracals are usually silent animals but can make a noise like a leopard if needed. They express their mood by hissing and growling. They also use the scent to communicate among the community. They have a scene between their toes and their face; they leave their scent and mark in places to keep other caracals away or to indicate the other the willingness to breed.
The Caracal is a cat with a sleek, streamlined body, a short reddish gold coat and dramatic markings on their faces. The Caracals are the most beautiful cat specie among the other cats. They are elegant hunters with shiny slimmer bodies. They have distinctive narrow black stripes sprayed on their body from their eye to their nose, and in the middle of their forehead, they have yellow-brown eyes with circular pupils instead of slits. The Caracals are the heaviest and the fastest among the other small cats. The Caracal is the largest of the small cats in Africa. The Caracals use the ear tufts to communicate with the other fellow Caracals.
In a situation of terror, the Caracals generally act aggressively, solitary and patrolling. The Caracals’ mothers look after the babies until they grow young, but the male Caracal does not stay with them. The baby caracals are raised inside an abandoned den. The kittens open their eyes within ten days of birth. When a child Caracal comes to the age of one month or two, they start to eat meat. The kittens begin hunting and strike prey when they are one year old. The records show that a Caracal will live for 12 years in wildlife.
The Caracal habitat loss in northern, western, and central Africa and Asia. The Caracals’ lives are endangered and hunted heavily as they prey on livestock. Also, Caracals are hunted for meat and fur. The Conservation on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) has taken steps to minimize the trading of Caracals for commercial trade. The hunting of Caracals is prohibited in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, India, Jordan, Israel, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Fun Facts about Caracals
- In the Turkish language, the Caracal means “Black-eared”.
- The Caracals are good at stalking and capturing prey for humans as cheetahs.
- The whiskers of Caracals have rattled in a similar pattern as a fingerprint.
- As Caracals can leap up to 3 meters, they can catch 12 birds in one leap.
- The Caracals have high speed and agility, which make them fearsome predators.
- The Caracals usually have three babies at a time.
- The Caracals’ front legs are longer than their hind legs.
- The Caracals use their sharp claws t remove the fur of their prey before eating them because they cannot digest fur.