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

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.

Key Facts about Caracals

~ One of few cats with plain coats ~

~ Incredible leaping ability ~

~ Multi-continent - Africa & Asia ~

Caracal Lineage

1. Caracal (Caracal caracal)

2. Serval (Leptailurus serval)

3. African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata)

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)

African Caracal Cat siblings walking by Martin Harvey

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Subspecies

The Caracal conservation status is Least Concern (LC) globally as the cat 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 current Felidae 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

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.

Female Caracal Cat with young by Eric Dragesco

African Caracal Cat walking along path in savannah by Pete Oxford

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Caracals: