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

Caracal Distribution in Africa

The Caracal 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 2018):

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

IUCN Caracal Distribution Map
Interactive map of the Caracal's range by the IUCN Red List

Caracal Subspecies

Historically up to nine subspecies were recognised however the current revision of the Felidae cat family 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

IUCN Caracal Distribution Map non-Africa
Interactive map of the Caracal's range by the IUCN Red List

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 2018):

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

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 (IUCN 2018):

  • Forest      - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Savanna   - Dry
  • Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Grassland - Temperate
  • Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Desert      - Hot
  • Desert      - Temperate
Caracal in savanna habitat
Caracal Walking in Savanna Habitat