Monthly Archives: February 2015

Caracal

A large, rufous-fawn Cat with tufted black ears, creamy underbelly with faded orange spots, and long legs. The face has exquisite markings. This animal must be regarded as one of the most beautiful Cats in the world.

The Caracal moves with grace and a sense of confident power. It is an expert climber and regularly takes refuge in trees. Melanistic or all black Caracal have also been reported.

Diet

In hunting, the Caracal is mainly nocturnal, but will also use the twilight hours to search out its prey. Diurnal activity has also been observed, specifically in the hunting of bird. For its size the Caracal is strong and fast, and as well as taking smaller prey such as Jerboas, Sand Rat, Ground Squirrel and Rock Hyrax, it can also bring down the larger Reedbuck and Duiker.This Cat is able, from a sitting position, to launch 4-5 metres in the air by using its strong hind quarters and limbs. They do this to pluck flying bird prey from the air.

Breeding

In most parts of its range the Caracal has no set breeding period and a female may often mate with up to three males. The litter size varies between 1-6 kittens, which are born after a gestation period of approximately 78 days. The kittens have a daily weight gain of approximately 21g per day and although they reach maturity at about 16-18 months of age they are often independent from about 12 months.

Behaviour

The Caracal is a mostly nocturnal, secretive, solitary and an aggressive animal. Due to being hunted as a problem animal by farmers, Caracal became even more elusive and thus a sighting of one is very difficult.

Habitat

The Cat is found in dry savannah and woodland areas, scrubland and rugged terrain in mountainous regions, where it is known to live as high as up as 3000 metres. Like other Cats found in dry, arid or semi-dessert locations, the Caracal can survive for long periods without water, instead obtaining its requirement form the metabolic moisture of its prey.

Distribution

It occurs throughout South Africa (including Sibuya Game Reserve), and prefers open areas in woodland savannahs as well as rocky, hilly areas.

Spoor

Compared to those of the Serval, the footprints of the Caracal are broader and the indentations at the front of the intermediate pads are more prominent.

Cape Fox

The only true fox and the smallest canid found in South Africa. The Cape Fox is silver-grey in colour with large pointed ears. They have a dark colouring around the mouth. Adults measure 350 mm at the shoulders and have a weight of 2.5-3 kg.

Remarkably agile, especially since the bushy tail serves as a counterbalance when dodging and weaving.

Diet

The Cape Fox preys on insects, mice and other small animals. They occasionally ingest wild fruit and carrion in farming areas.

Breeding

The Cape Fox is a seasonal breeder, giving birth in the early summer to between one and 5 young, after a gestation period of 51-52 days.

1 – 5 young are born from October – November after a gestation period of ± 2 months. The female has one pair of groin and 2 pairs of abdominal mammae.

Behaviour

The Cape Fox is mainly nocturnal. Its social system is not well understood but it would appear to be monogamous, like other canids.

Distribution

Inhabits mainly open country, from open grassland plains with scattered thickets to semi-desert scrub, and also extending into fynbos. Associated strongly with the fringes of water pans. Widespread in South Africa, occurring in most parts of the Western and Northern Cape provinces, the Eastern Cape (including Sibuya Game Reserve) the Free State, western and north-western KwaZulu-Natal and the North-West province. Also occurring in Lesotho.

Spoor

Has 5 toes on the fore-feet, but the first toe and claw do not mark in the spoor. Has 4 toes on the hind-feet. The claws on the front feet are thin, sharp and curved, about 15 mm in length across the curve. Those on the hind-feet are the same shape and about the same length.