The Caracal distribution extends throughout Africa, the Middle East and into South West Asia, excluding extreme desert regions and rainforests.

AFRICA: The Caracal is common in southern Africa and occurs widely in the rest of Africa, except for the equatorial forest 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.

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.

Caracal Subspecies

Historically up to nine subspecies were recognised however the recent taxonomic revision proposes 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

Reference: Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group.
Caracal Distribution Map ~ Caracal Range Map
Caracal Distribution Map
Reproduced with permission from the book Cats Of Africa


Caracal in savanna habitat
Caracal Walking in Savanna Habitat

Caracal Habitat

Caracals are generalist, adaptable carnivores that can survive in a variety of habitats from semi-deserts to humid forests. 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.

The IUCN Red List has standardised habitat types globally and the following seven types are important for Caracals:

  • Forest      - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Savanna   - Dry
  • Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Grassland - Temperate
  • Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Desert      - Hot
  • Desert      - Temperate
Reference: Avgan, B., Henschel, P. & Ghoddousi, A. 2016. Caracal caracal (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3847A102424310. See Classification Schemes > Habitats.

Caracal Distribution in Africa

Caracals occur in 41 African countries across all five regions.

List of African countries where Caracals occur:

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

Other regions where Caracals occur:

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

*The country links will take you to an adventure travel website that often includes exploring the natural landscape in their tours.
Reference: Avgan, B., Henschel, P. & Ghoddousi, A. 2016. Caracal caracal. (errata version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3847A102424310.

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Caracal Distribution Map

Click to view an interactive current map of the Caracal's range by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

IUCN Caracal Distribution Map


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