Caracal, African lynx, Asian caracal, desert lynx
As with cheetahs, caracals are easily tamed and have been used to assist humans on hunts in Iran and India.
Africa: C.c.caracal, C.c.algira, C.c.damarensis, C.c.limpopoensis, C.c.lucani, C.c.nubicus, C.c.poecilictis
Asia: C.c.michaelis, C.c.schmitzi.
Caracals live for at least 12 years in the wild and up to 19 years in captivity.
Body length: 55-90cm, Tail length: 22-31cm, Shoulder height: 38-50cm, Weight: male: 13kg, female: 10kg. Caracals from India tend to be smaller than those from Africa.
Caracals have a short reddish-brown coat with a white chin, throat and belly. They have a narrow black line running from each eye to the nose. The body is long and slender with long legs, a tapering tail and tufted ears. Caracals in arid regions tend to have paler fur than their counterparts. Turkmen caracals have stiff hairs on their paws that produce a snowshoe effect in the sand.
Caracals range throughout Africa and in Asia from Turkestan, north west India to Arabia.
They inhabit a variety of habitats but are mainly found in dry country in woodland, savannah and scrub.
Caracals hunt by stalking prey including rodents, hares, hyraxes, small deer and other small mammals. They are renowned for their expert ability to catch birds, leaping high into the air and hitting the bird with their paw. Reptiles and invertebrates are also taken. On rare occasions they have been spotted caching food up in trees.
African caracals are most active at night but will also hunt during the day in the winter. Asian caracals are active at dawn and dusk. They shelter during the day in disused burrows, dense vegetation or rock crevices. The maternal dens are located in porcupine burrows, rocky crevices or dense vegetation.
Caracals are ground-dwellers but can climb well. Males have larger ranges than females.
Females give birth to 1-4 kittens after a gestation period of 78-81 days.
Asian caracals are on CITES: Appendix I, and African populations are on Appendix II. Caracals are not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are killed due to the threat they pose to small livestock and are hunted for their skins and meat.