Aspects of the biology of the caracal (Felis caracal Schreber, 1776) in the Cape Province, South Africa.
Stuart, Christopher Trevor.
MetadataShow full item record
Felis caracal, despite heavy hunting pressure, is common and widespread throughout the Cape Province. Caracal are considered to be the principal wild predator of domestic livestock (goats and sheep) by most farmers and hunt clubs. Scat and stomach content analysis, as well as observations, indicate that F. caracal prey primarily on small to medium-sized mammals. The feeding habits of caracal-in different areas varied, according to abundance and occurrence of prey species. Captive animals required an average of 586g of meat each day. Killing techniques varied for different sized prey items. Physical and behavioural ontogeny are described for captive born animals. A technique for determining age of F. caracal was developed from study of known-age captive caracal. Examination of females killed in the wild, captive births, and births which were back-dated indicated that although young were born throughout the year, there was a definite birth peak between October and February with the lowest point being in May/June. Caracal were distinctly sexually dimorphic in size. Six F. caracal (four females and two males) were trapped, fitted with radio-transmitters, and released at the capture sites. Animals were cumulatively tracked for a total of 164 weeks. The mean range was 24,16km². A young adult male covered approximately 138km before settling in a 48km² area. Recommendations are presented for reducing losses of domestic stock by the caracal, based on the principal of removing the problem individual rather than blanket control.