) Shoulder height 40cm. Weight 15–20kg.
Smaller but heavier than the serval, caracal resemble European lynx with their uniform tan coat and tufted ears. They are solitary, mainly nocturnal hunters which feed on birds, small antelope and young livestock. Caracal are remarkable hunters for their size, and will often take prey as large or even larger than they are. Their style is very much like small leopards; they normally stalk their prey as closely as possible, before springing with surprise. They also take many of the same species, even caching their prey in trees to return and feed later, and can be quite acrobatic hunters: they have been known to 'bat' birds out of the air as they fly.
Caracal occur throughout sub-Saharan Africa, easily adapting to a variety of environments. They're found throughout Botswana and whilst night drives in the early evening provide your best chance of a glimpse of them, they're still very rarely seen.Similar species
The smaller African wild cat
) ranges from the Mediterranean to the Cape of Good Hope, and is similar in appearance to the domestic tabby cat. It has a ringed tail, a reddish-brown tinge to the back of its ears and an unspotted torso – which should preclude confusion with the even smaller small spotted cat
), a relatively rare resident of the central and southern Kalahari which has a more distinctively marked coat. Both species are generally solitary and nocturnal, often utilising burrows or termite mounds as daytime shelters. They prey upon reptiles, amphibians and birds as well as small mammals.