On our last survey for hoofed mammals in Tarangire National Park in June, we were extremely lucky to catch a quick glimpse of a relatively common but rarely seen wild cat: the caracal (Caracal caracal). This gorgeous feline is closely related to African golden cats and servals, but is quite distinctive-looking thanks to a long tuft of hair at the tip of each ear. Also known as the "desert lynx" (although not considered a lynx species), the caracal is widely distributed across Africa and central and southwest Asia. They eat small mammals such as mice and hyraxes and smaller antelopes like reedbucks, duikers, and steenboks. These cats likely held religious significance for the ancient Egyptians: they were depicted in wall paintings, their bodies were embalmed, and sculptures of caracals guarded tombs.
We saw two adult caracals crossing the road and slinking through the grass. Below is a photo we took of one of the cats (apologies for the poor quality but lighting was less than ideal at 6 AM!)
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