Character Caracals by Alison Lee Rubie
Before going to Africa, I’ll be honest, I had no idea what a caracal was. I hadn’t even heard of them. They aren’t a common animal to have in Australian zoos, nor one that we would learn about, so I was completely naïve about them. But while in South Africa last year I had the privilege to work with these beautiful cats up close. They have some great characteristics and certainly have a lot of character about them.
Found across Africa, Central Asia and south west Asia (into India), the caracal – Scientific Name: Caracal caracal, is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Redlist. This is positive as it means their numbers are steady and not declining. They occupy a wide variety of habitats and are adaptable to their surrounds from savannahs to semi-desert and even scrubland and forest dwellings. Their diet consists of small to medium mammals such as rabbits and duiker and other small antelope to even birds and fish and reptiles. As with all African animals, habitat loss is a big threat to them as well as laws allowing farmers and landowners to kill without restriction. Despite these threats, the population remains steady.
Pictured here is a Sakura. She was always so calm and affectionate when we didn’t have food to give out but seemed to be a completely different cat when she knew we had food for her. It was a race to run into her enclosure, drop the food and run out, beating the snarls and hisses coming from the hungry caracal. A thrill though nonetheless for me.
I’ll be heading back to Africa on October 5 after the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions in Sydney (11am Sydney Town Hall) and plan on sending through a blog then. Stay tuned for ‘on the ground’ blogging.