It is a rare sight to stumble across a caracal pair in the throes of mating – lucky for Liz and Paul Bester visiting the Kruger National Park near the Satara Camp, they had front row seats to the show.
The couple posted pictures of their incredible and unusual sighting on Latest Sightings – Kruger last week, detailing their encounter with the mating caracal pair.
“This was a mating pair. The female was really playing hard to get. She was desperately trying to keep the male at a distance. She played ball with the elephant dung, just like a cat. She munched on different dung heaps. She rolled in it. She fought, she screeched, she spat and she threw tantrums…. And he just kept trying to win her over, unperturbed by her shenanigans,” said the Besters’ in their post.
They called the experience the most “unreal, exciting sighting of our lives” and likened it to a Steven Spielberg movie coming alive.
All about caracals…
Caracals are elusive creatures who shy away from humans. There are robustly built, medium-sized, orange/tan cats with long legs, large paws, pointed ear tips and a short tail. They are also called lynx or in South Africa, a rooikat after the colour of their fur.
They are characterised by their white bellies with red spots. Much like wild cats, caracals are strictly carnivorous ambush predators who prey on small and medium-sized animals. And for this reason, they prey on farm animals which farmers don’t take kindly to.
Their species has dwindled in South Africa because they are killed by farmers. Caracals are also hunted for their coats.
When the female is on heat, a chemical in her urine attracts the male. Caracals also have a cough-like mating call to attract a suitor. If a female has multiple males seeking to mate with her, they might fight it out or she might choose one. The caracal couple then stay together for up to four days during the mating ritual. It is not uncommon for her to mate with more than one caracal during this time.
The gestation period lasts anywhere between 68 – 81 days, and the female gives birth to 1-6 kittens.