Caracal cat Classification
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 similar 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 Lineage

1. Caracal (Caracal caracal)

2. Serval (Leptailurus serval)

3. African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata)

Key Facts about Caracals

~ One of few cats with plain coats ~

~ Incredible leaping ability ~

~ Multi-continent - Africa & Asia ~

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Classification

Caracal cats are classified in the genus Caracal and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Caracal species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Caracal

Species: Caracal caracal (Caracal)


C.c. caracal

C.c. nubicus

C.c. schmitzi


The scientific name for the Caracal cat is Caracal caracal which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Caracal Cat Classification Diagram
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

African Caracal Cat siblings walking by Martin Harvey

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Subspecies

Historically up to eight subspecies of Caracals were recognized, however the last 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 Conservation

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.

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 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 Caracal cats 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 Cat Facts and Information

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

Caracal (Caracal caracal) Research

Here are some papers published on Caracal cats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

Caracal caracal (Schreber, 1776) is a felid commonly called the caracal. It is a slender, medium-sized cat (5.8–22 kg) characterized by a short tail and long ear tufts.

Ccaracal has a wide distribution and is found throughout Africa, north to the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, central and southwest Asia into India; its habitat includes arid woodlands, savanna, scrublands, hilly steppes, and arid mountainous regions.

It is globally listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources as “Least Concern” despite population trends unknown across most of its geographic distribution. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora lists Asian populations under Appendix I and African populations under Appendix II.

Amanda M Veals, Alexandra D Burnett, Marina Morandini, Marine Drouilly, John L Koprowski
Caracal caracal (Carnivora: Felidae)
2020 Mammalian Species (52) Issue 993: 71–85

Understanding activity and habitat use are important for identifying mechanisms facilitating species co-occurrence.

We studied habitat use and activity patterns of caracals (Caracal caracal) and servals (Leptailurus serval), primarily nocturnal, midsized felids that prey extensively on small mammals and co-occur in portions of sub- Saharan Africa.

Spatial and temporal patterns of segregation were investigated in a 1,085-km² area of Serengeti National Park, Tanzania from 2010-2012. We used occupancy analysis to quantify habitat use and kernel density estimators and Mardia-Watson-Wheleer tests to analyse activity patterns.

We found evidence for habitat divergence but high temporal overlap between species. Servals selected for grassland and avoided shrubland and wooded grassland. In contrast, the findings showed that caracals avoided grassland and woodland-shrubland; however, 73% of caracals were detected in wooded grassland. Overall, caracals and servals co-occurred independently, Species Interaction Factor, (phi = 1).

This indicates that differential use of habitats in part facilitated coexistence of caracals and servals.

Proper management of the declining grasslands including other habitats are recommended to facilitate continued coexistence. Additional studies, including feeding ecology, would be important to further understand mechanisms facilitating coexistence between caracals and servals.

Mwampeta, S.; Magige, F.J.; Belant, J.L.
Spatial and temporal overlap of caracal and serval in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
2020 African Journal of Ecology (58): 361-370

Most people lack the opportunity to see non-domesticated animals in the wild. Consequently, people's perception of wild animals is based on what they see on (social) media. The way in which (social) media portrays non-domesticated animals determines our perception of and behaviour to these animals. People like to interact with animals, which is why venues which offer the opportunity to interact with non-domesticated animals are popular wildlife tourist attractions (WTAs). However, these WTAs more often than not profit at the expense of animal welfare, conservation and human safety. Participation in such WTAs should therefore be discouraged.

Through (social) media we are regularly exposed to images of non-domesticated animals in close interactions with humans. Exposure to such images seems to blur the line between what is a friendly domesticated animal and what is a potentially dangerous wild animal. Such images may also increase our desire to engage in interactions with non-domesticated animals ourselves and reduce moral concerns about the use of non-domesticated animals for such interactions, thereby promoting WTAs in which tourists can interact with non-domesticated animals. Wild cat species are commonly used in the wildlife tourism industry to interact with tourists.

In this study, we determine whether portrayal of wild cat species in interactions with humans promotes WTAs with wild cats. We presented respondents with an image of a wild cat species (lion, cheetah, caracal) in a control setting, walked by a human (WTA), petted by a human (WTA) or in the wild and asked them to answer a fixed set of questions.

We found that portraying wild cat species in interactions with humans reduced the fear of wild cats, encouraged people to regard WTAs with wild cats as acceptable and stimulated them to participate in such activities themselves.

van der Meer, E.; Botman, S.; Eckhardt, S.
I thought I saw a pussy cat: Portrayal of wild cats in friendly interactions with humans distorts perceptions and encourages interactions with wild cat species
2019  PLoS ONE (14): 1-24

View more articles on Caracal caracal in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).

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