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

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

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

Caracal Subspecies

Caracal Subspecies

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.

Caracal Habitat

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 2021):

  • 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