We report about Caracal sightings on Table Mountain once a year, every year and this time, this might be the best sighting yet!
Cape Town, South Africa (25 June 2020) – Caracal sightings can be quite rare, the beautiful cat is quite reclusive and is very good at keeping itself unseen. We first shared a sighting of the Caracal in January 2018; it was seen by paragliders on Lion’s Head. The second sighting of a Caracal took place in April 2019.
We are so curious to know if this is the same Caracal or different ones? This time, a Caracal has been seen by a walker on Camps Bay Drive in June of 2020.
The Caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. The mammal is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears and long canine teeth.
Typically nocturnal, the Caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial and lives mainly alone or in pairs.
Natalie Jaff Barnett was walking along Camps Bay Drive when she saw the Caracal. She quickly snapped pictures of the mammal and called it “The best gift ever!”. The caracal Natalie spotted was the Urban caracal Hermes from the Urban Caracal Project in Cape Town.
The organisation were so chuffed to hear of Hermes being seen; they shared his incredible story.
“Urban caracal Hermes is quite the project mascot and he has an interesting life story for his short time on this Earth! We first met him in 2018 when he was hit by a car on Camp’s Bay Road, in the same spot where at least 2 other caracals have been hit by cars and died. But Hermes survived, though almost bit his tongue off and it was quickly sewn back on at Timberskloof Veterinary Practice! While at the vet, we performed X Rays, only to discover he’d clearly been hit by a car before, severely breaking his hind leg (see infographic). But he healed after that incident too, although his right hind leg is a little shorter than his left now! But you wouldn’t know it based on the way he struts his stuff for many hikers and joggers on Pipe Track and Tafelberg Road!
When we met him in 2018, he was between 1-2 years old, so now he’s around 4 years old. That’s actually “old” for an urban caracal…most of the caracals we find dead are only 2 years old, although their typical lifespan in areas without humans would be around 10 years! Hermes is frequently sighted, easily distinguishable by his light blue and green ear tags.
During non-lockdown conditions, we get about 1 sighting report/week for Hermes, although surely he is seen even more! He is obviously habituated and doesn’t mind being seen, but that doesn’t mean he is a threat. He’s grown up in an area with a lot of humans, so for the average hiker that doesn’t pose any threat, he doesn’t mind letting people admire his beauty. The infographic was created in 2018 around when we first met Hermes, and since then, he’s also been spotted in Hout Bay. These photos were taken last week (thank you Natalie Jaff Barnett) on Camps Bay Road.
If you are lucky enough to see a caracal while out on the mountain, take a moment to enjoy seeing such a beautiful animal! If you have dogs, PLEASE keep them on a leash! Dogs regularly chase and harass caracals in Table Mountain, and that means they are probably harassing other wildlife too. And as always, please report your sightings online (www.urbancaracal.org/report-sightings-roadkill) and if you have photos, please send them to Laurel@fwob.org!”
Have you ever seen this beautiful wild cat? Take a look at the stunning images Natalie was able to capture as well as the Urban Caracal infographics below. If you would like to find out more, you can follow them on Facebook.