The Caracal (Caracal caracal) is a species of wild cat native to Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and India. It is easily recognised by its robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears, and long canine teeth.
This article will further give details about the Caracal within the context of the Civil Services Examination.
Characteristics of Caracal
The caracal is a moderately sized cat with a robust build, short face, long canine teeth, tufted ears and long legs
Its prominent feature included long black tufts on the ears, two black stripes from the forhad to the nose. The eyes appear to be narrowly opened due to the lowered upper eyelid, probably an adaption to shield the eyes from the sun’s glare
The caracal is a slender, moderately sized cat characterised by a robust build, a short face, long canine teeth, tufted ears, and long legs.
Further Characteristics of Caracal is given in the table below:
Characteristics of a Caracal
|Shoulder Height||40 – 50 cm|
|Head to Body Length||Males: 78–108 cm
Females: 71–102.9 cm
|Tail Length||Males: 21–34 cm
Females: 18–31.5 cm
|Weight||Males: 7.2 and 19 kg
Females: 7 and 15.9 kg
|Latin Name||Caracal caracal|
|Habitat||Africa, India, Central Asia, Middle East|
|Average Lifespan||16 years|
Caracal – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here
Behaviour of the Caracal
The Caracal is mainly nocturnal and is also highly secretive making it difficult to observe. They are also territorial and may live alone or in pairs. A typical carnivore, it preys upon small mammals, birds and rodents.
Along with catching birds in midair it can also run down and kill its prey at long distances.
They will feed from a variety of sources, but tend to focus on the most abundant one. Grasses and grapes are taken occasionally to clear their immune system and stomach of any parasites.
Larger antelopes such as young kudu, bushbuck, impala, mountain reedbuck, and springbok may also be targeted. Mammals generally comprise at least 80% of the diet.
To know more about Biodiversity in general, visit the linked article.
Conservation of the Caracal
The caracal has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2002. But its population numbers vary in the 50 countries it is distributed in. It’s thought to be close to extinction in North Africa, critically endangered in North Africa, but stable in Southern Africa.
The threats it faces are retaliatory killings from livestock farmers and hunting for pet trade in the Middle East. Another threat they face is destruction of habitat through expansion of human settlements.
African caracal populations are listed under CITES Appendix II, while Asian populations come under CITES Appendix I. In many countries such as Pakistan, India, Jordan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc.
In South Africa, the caracal is considered Least Concern, as it is widespread and adaptable to a variety of habitats. It is tolerant to human-dominated areas, although it has been persecuted for many decades.
For notes on UPSC Environment and Ecology, visit the linked article.
In India, Caracals are mainly found in the Ranthambore National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions on Caracal
Q 1. What are the physical attributes of a Caracal?
Q 2. What is the status of Caracal as per IUCN?
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