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The caracal

19 October 2015

 

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The caracal is a slender cat of medium size with a mean weight in adults that varies from 8 to 10 kg and a shoulder height that varies from 40.5 to 53.5 cm. The strong hindquarters allow a caracal to bridge long distances when jumping and it is an adept climber of trees. The coat colour is yellowish-brown to red and each of the pointed ears has a tuft of black hair. The name caracal is derived from the Russian name karakal or the Uzbek name garah-kulak and both these names mean black ear. The caracal was first described scientifically in 1776 as Felis caracal by Schreber based on a specimen that was collected near Table Mountain in the Western Cape province of South Africa. When it was realized that it was not a species of Felis, a new genus Caracal was coined for it by Gray in 1843. The caracal is not a type of lynx and its closest relatives are the ocelot Leopardus pardalis of the Americas and the golden cat Profelis aurata of central Africa.

Caracal caracal is a member of the family Felidae and the genus Caracal only contains one species. The ancestors of the caracal reached Africa from Eurasia some 8.5 to 5.6 million years ago. The oldest fossil in Africa... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

References:

Bothma, J. du P. and C. Walker 1999. Larger carnivores of the African savannas. Pretoria: J. L. van Schaik, pp 116 -129.

Skinner, J D and C T Chimimba (Eds) 2005. The mammals of the southern African subregion, third edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 397 - 401.

Sunquist, M and F Sunquist 2002. Wild cats of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 37 - 47.

Wozencraft, W. C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D E Wilson and D M Reeder (Eds), Mammal species of the world – a taxonomic and geographic reference, third edition. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, p 533.

 

article by Prof J du P Bothma

 

 

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