The Caracal is a fiercely territorial medium-sized cat ranging over Western Asia, South Asia and Africa. The name Caracal is derived from a Turkish word "karakulak" meaning "black ear." In North India and Pakistan, the caracal is locally known as syahgosh which a Persian term is meaning black ears. In Afrikaans it is called Rooikat, "red cat".
Caracal is 52 inches long and weighs around 50 pounds. They have long slender body with total height of about 20 inches. They have pointed and narrow black ears. Males are larger than the females. The fur of the caracal is reddish brown in color. Under parts of the chin and body are white and the narrow black eye runs from the corner of the eyes to the nose. The size of its tail is around 30 cm. They have long legs and are excellent climbers. It is the heaviest and fastest of all small cats.
Some Caracals are hair pullers. Some pluck themselves almost naked and do the same to their casemate. Enrichment, dermatological tests, blood tests, etc. have not lead to an answer. This behavior seems to be more seasonal which would point to allergies. There are no easy answers.
Caracal is a carnivorous and preys upon rodents, hares, hyraxes, birds, jackal, mongoose, mountain reedbuck, small antelope, and hedgehog and baby impala. It also eats feathers of small birds. Caracal can survive without the water for the longer period. It mainly haunts during the night time. The Caracal is capable of leaping into the air and knocking down 10-12 birds at one time.
Caracals are polyestrus, meaning they are not seasonal and can reproduce year round. Caracals reach sexual maturity in less than 2 years. First litters have been recorded at 1 ½ years (18 months) of age. Their cyclicity lasts from 3-5 days and seems to peak in Feb., March and August. Gestation is 69-79 days. Litter sizes vary from 1-6 with an average of 2-3.
Prefer the drier savannahs and woodlands areas, but are not found in the tropical rainforests or in deep deserts. They may also be found in arid mountains up to 2,500m.
The Soviet Central Asian subspecies has an IUCN listing as rare. All Asian populations have a CITES appendix 1 listing. Caracal is being widely haunted for its skin. They are mostly killed for livestock predation. It is also haunted for games and sports.
Caracal is found in Rajasthan, Gujarat and the Western parts of Madhya Pradesh. They are also spotted in Panna National Park, Sariska and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.