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Caracal - The essence of beauty


Caracals have sleek, streamlined bodies, reddish gold coats, dramatic markings Black Caracalon the face, and are among the most beautiful of cats. The large, tapering ears with erect tufts of black hair, are a very striking feature of this cat. Their name comes from the Turkish word  ‘karakulak’ and means "black ear". Sometimes called a desert lynx, caracals have longer tails, a more slender body, lack the ruff (beard) on the face and have longer legs than true lynx. Melanistic caracals exist but have been rarely seen. They are actually more dark brown than black. They have great tree climbing and jumping abilities and are great atheletes for being one of the heaviest of smaller felines. The Caracal is a cunning, agile cat that makes it a very good hunter. They get most of their water from their prey and can go long periods without drinking. This attribute allows them to survive for long periods of time in the dry, desert without water sources.

 

Due to its unique camouflage, they were able to catch many different prey including hares, jerboas, sand rats, birds, hyraxes, deer, gazelles and kudus. Mostly a nocturnal hunter, but will also use the twilight hours to search out its prey. This Cat is able, from a sitting position, to launch 9 to 12 feet in the air by using its strong hind quarters and limbs. This power comes in handy when birds are flushed out and take to the air. At one time, they were tamed and trained for bird hunting in India and Iran. They were also put in arena containing pigeons, and wagers were made to see how many they would take down at one time. Ten to a dozen birds at one time can be taken this way.

They are rare or threatened in Asia and North Africa, but pleNormal Caracalntiful in South Africa. At present, they are common and have a healthy, stable population. In fact, they are so common in some areas of their range that they are running into problems with farmers and are hunted as poultry raiders. Ranchers will put out poisoned meat (usually carcasses) in hopes of killing other predators. Unfortunately the caracal is exposed to this meat. In some areas of their range they are killed for their skin and meat by bush people. Tho their fur has little commercial value. The actual number in the wild is unknown. Habitat loss due to human encroachment is a large threat as their prey species are driven to other areas. The Indian subspecies is thought to be very endangered. While the Asian species are protected in approximately half of their range territory, the African population is not protected in most of theirs.