Notes on the spatial ecology of caracals (Felis caracal), with particular reference to Namibian farms

  • January 1, 2005
  • by Marker L. L., A.J. Dickman


Caracals occur in northern Africa, Asia and at least 36 sub-Saharan African countries, yet little has been published regarding their spatial ecology. Caracals are classified as problem animals in Namibia and South Africa and are commonly regarded as vermin because of occasional predation upon small stock Despite high levels of removals, caracals are not currently threatened in southern Africa and there is some evidence of range expansion in Namibia and South Africa. Caracals may utilize niches on farmland previously occupied by blackbacked jackals (_Canis mesomelas_, Schreber 1778), which are also intensively removed by farmers. Increased knowledge regarding the range use of caracals is fundamental in terms of furthering the understanding of this cat’s ecology, and is important for developing more effective and ecologically sound methods for its management on private land. This study was conducted on the commercial farmlands of north-central Namibia Between 1996 and 2000, we radio-collared and released four male caracals within the study area. Comparison with other studies were made. These data show that caracals have large home ranges, and this wide-ranging behaviour enables them to effectively recolonize vacant areas following removal. This explains why even intensive culling is relatively ineffectual in terms of reducing caracal numbers on farmland. Consequently, measures such as effective small stock protection will be a more effective and ecologically sound method of limiting conflict with caracals on private land, rather than the existing strategy of attempted eradication.

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