The Caracal (Caracal caracal) distribution extends across a vast range throughout Africa, the Middle East and into South West Asia, excluding true desert and rainforest habitat. Three subspecies are described - two in Africa and one in Asia.
Caracal Distribution in Africa
The African Caracal cat is common in southern Africa and occurs widely in the rest of Africa, except for the equatorial rainforests and deep interior of the Sahara desert.
The highest populations occur in South Africa and Namibia with viable populations throughout the rest of its African range.
Caracals occur in 41 African countries across all five regions.
List of African countries where Caracals occur (IUCN 2021):
North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara
West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo
Central Africa: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic Congo
East Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland
Caracal Distribution Middle East to Asia
The Caracal's range extends from Africa into the Middle East and southern Asia as far as India, with populations declining in the extreme east of their range.
Other regions where Caracals occur (IUCN 2021):
Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait; Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Eastern Europe: Turkey
Asia: Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Historically up to nine subspecies were recognised however the last taxonomic revision of the Felidae cat family in 2017 proposed only three subspecies, subject to further research:
Caracal caracal caracal - Southern and East Africa
Caracal caracal nubicus - North and West Africa
Caracal caracal schmitzi - Middle East to India
For the full classification of this wild cat see Caracal Lineage - Caracal caracal Classification.
Across their vast range covering Africa into Asia, Caracals occur in most habitat types except for the true deserts and tropical rainforests. Their most common habitat in Africa is semi-arid savanna, one of the typical African vegetation types.
- Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- Savanna - Dry
- Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- Grassland - Temperate
- Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- Desert - Hot
- Desert - Temperate