African Caracal cat (Caracal caracal)
Caracal Standing by Gerald Hinde from the book Cats Of Africa

Caracal Key Facts

* Largest of the small cats

* Black tufted ears

* Leaps to catch birds

Caracal Facts


Caracal caracal

African Caracal, African Lynx, Asian Caracal, Persian Lynx, Caracal Lynx, Desert Lynx


The name Caracal comes from Turkish word "karakulak" meaning 'black eared'. The Swahili name for Caracal is "Simbamangu" which means 'secretive lion' or 'secretive cat' as they are rarely seen.

The Caracal has distinctive long dark tufts on its large, pointed ears. It is one of the few cat species that don't have any spots or stripes on its coat.

Caracals occur throughout Africa and South East Asia but are absent from the extreme desert regions and rainforests.


Caracals are capable of tremendous aerial acrobatic jumps. They can leap into the air and knock down 10-12 birds at one time (see video).

Caracal females can reproduce any time during the year, although births may peak at certain times in areas of distinct seasonal variation. Two to three Caracal kittens are born in a litter and kittens will remain with the female until nine or ten months old.


Caracals were once tamed and trained for bird hunting in Iran and India. They were put into arenas containing a flock of pigeons, and wagers were made as to how many birds the cat would take down. This is the origin of the expression "to put a cat among the pigeons".

Further Information

The following professional organizations have well researched and accurate information on Caracals:

South Africa Travel Guide
Travel Guide South Africa 2023

Namibia Travel Guide 2022
Travel Guide Namibia 2022

Botswana Travel Guide
Travel Guide Botswana 2022/23