Caracal cats (Caracal caracal) are easily recognizable by their long black ear tufts and plain reddish coats. Although not genetically related to true Lynxes this cat is often called a lynx due to their ear tufts. Its natural distribution is in Africa and Asia, however the Caracal is well known as one of the exotic feline species bred in America for the pet trade.

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Unique Facts

~ One of the few cats with plain coats ~

~ Incredible leaping ability to catch birds ~

~ Multi continent distribution - Africa and Asia ~

Caracal (Caracal caracal)
Caracal caracal taken in the Serengeti, Tanzania
By Nick and Melissa Baker, [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Source

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the Caracal species (Caracal caracal) is as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)

Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia   (mammals)

Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)

Family: Felidae   (cats)

Genus: Caracal

Species: Caracal caracal (Caracal)

 

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Subspecies (lower classifications)

The Caracal conservation status is Least Concern (LC) globally as it is common and widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa. However it is listed as Near Threatened (NT) for the Mediterranean region due to range losses in North Africa and Asia. Historically eight subspecies were recognized however the recent taxonomic revision proposes only three subspecies, pending further research:

1. Caracal caracal caracal - Southern and East Africa

2. Caracal caracal nubicus - North and West Africa

3. Caracal caracal schmitzi - Middle East to India

References:

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. <www.iucnredlist.org> Caracal caracal 23 May 2017.
  • Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group.

 

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Conservation and Research

In Southern Africa the Caracal, together with its sympatric species - the Black-Backed Jackal, are considered problem animals, and a Predator Management Forum has been established in South Africa to tackle this ongoing predator conflict issue.

A recent study on the urban caracals that have been isolated on the Cape Peninsular has highlighted the issues of rodent poisoning and road kill as factors affecting Caracals in the Western Cape of South Africa.

There is a need for urgent research in the northern African and Asian regions of the Caracal distribution, where numbers are declining.

 

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Facts and Information

The following links will take you to websites with well researched and authoritative information on Caracals:

  • Caracal Fact Sheet - ARKive
  • Caracal Information - ISEC
  • Caracal Images and Video Clips in the Wild - ARKive
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Wild Cats of the World - Luke Hunter Luke Hunter 2015
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The Wild Cat Book - Sunquist Fiona and Mel Sunquist 2014
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Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson J. Sanderson & P. Watson 2011
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Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids D.Macdonald & A.Loveridge 2010
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Wild Cats of the World - Sunquist Mel and Fiona Sunquist 2002
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