Hunting Caracal in Africa

Hunting Caracal in Africa

The African caracal (Caracal caracal), sometimes known as the desert lynx, is widespread throughout Africa.  It’s rated as Least Concern as far as conservation status. A small cat similar in size to a bobcat or lynx, the African caracal is noted for its large ears with distinct tufts on the ends.  The male weighs 17 to 45 pounds and has a head and body length of 30 to 40 inches.  Females are smaller by ten percent. 

Adult African caracals are solitary by nature, occasionally pairing up as mates.  They are nocturnal, hunting birds, reptiles and small to medium sized antelope.  They are known for their ability to catch birds by leaping up to six feet into the air from a stationary position.  They kill smaller animals with a hard bite to the neck.  Larger animals are dispatched not only with the bite to the neck, but also by raking the prey with claws.  African caracals usually consume their prey in one meal.  They have been known to cover the remains if the carcass is too big.  Sometimes they will stash the remains in a tree.  African caracals can survive without water for a long time.  They get their liquid from the body fluids of their prey. 

African caracals are common in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly South Africa and Namibia.  They are less common in West and Central Africa.  They are not habitat specific and can be found anywhere from woodlands to semi-arid savannah.  They prefer drier climate with little rainfall and adequate cover.  The only areas they avoid are rain forests.

Hunting caracal in Africa is usually not the primary reason for going on an African safari, but an accidental encounter while hunting other animals will sometimes occur.  Baiting will work if the African caracal is on your list of specific animals to hunt. Setting up near one of their kills will work as caracals are known to return to their kills.  Another method is to bait them and hunt from a blind.  They have such excellent hearing, though, that you must be absolutely quiet and sit still in the blind.  Predator calls work if you have an African caracal in a known area.  In the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal, the caracal can be hunted with dogs, but it’s illegal in other areas.  Caracal may be hunted at night by spotlight in areas where it is legal to use artificial light when hunting caracal in Africa.

Almost any small centerfire caliber will do for hunting caracal in Africa.  Any of the .20 caliber rounds up to the .257 Weatherby will do the job.  However, larger calibers can be used, providing fast expanding bullets aren’t used.  Even the old standby, the 100+ year old .375 H&H with solid bullets like the Nosler 300 grain solid would work.  The solid would just pass through the African caracal doing little damage to the hide.

Shot placement is important when you hunt caracal in Africa.  Shots to the head should be avoided due to damaging the skull and tearing up the fur or facial feature.  Taxidermists are good, but they need most of the animal to work with.  Set your crosshairs slightly behind the shoulder, just about the midpoint of the body, and your African caracal hunt will be over.