Caracal (Caracal (African Lynx))

Conservation Status

Least Concern (LC)

Physical Description

Caracals have brown to red coats, females are typically lighter in colour than males. The face has black markings around the whisker pads, around the eyes and faintly down the centre of the head and nose. The trademark features are the elongated and black-tufted ears. Their legs are relatively long with the hind legs more so and well muscled. The tail is short.
Weight 8-19 kg
Size 80-125 cm
Lifespan (wild) 12 years
Lifespan (captivity) 20 years


Social and Reproduction

Caracals are solitary, except for the duration of mating and while mothers are rearing infants. Primarily nocturnal caracals can be active during the day especially in undisturbed regions.

Mating System Promiscuity
Breeding interval annual; once per year
Breeding season anytime; but often during August-December so young are born in summer.
Gestation 68-81 days
Number of offspring 1-6; young are weaned at 4-6 months and become independent at around 9-10 months.

Habitat and Food


Caracals occupy diverse habitats but typically found in woodlands, thickets and scrub forest, plains and rocky hills are also common habitats.
They can tolerate quite arid conditions.


Caracals are strict carnivores; the bulk of their diet consisting of hyraxes, hares, rodents, small antelopes, small monkeys, birds and sometimes small reptiles. Although they are renowned for their acrobatic leaps to snatch birds out of mid-air, mammals make up more than half of their diet.
They are formidable predators able to tackle prey up to three times their size.


Lions, Leopards, Hyaenas, Humans

Conservation Challenges

Caracals are known to hunt and kill small livestock and are therefore subject to intense persecution from sheep and goat farmers. In Namibia they are classed as a pest species.

Naankuse Solutions

Livestock protection methods such as night-kraaling and the use of shepherds or guard dogs can reduce livestock depredation by caracals.


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