A partnership between the University of Cape Town, the Cape Leopard Trust, Universities of California (Santa Cruz and Los Angeles), South Africa National Parks, the City of Cape Town, and private landowners in Cape Town. 

 

About the Urban Caracal Project

Based on a successful research and bobcat conservation project in Los Angeles, California, USA (2006 – 2014), wildlife biologist, Laurel Serieys, PhD established the Urban Caracal Project in Cape Town in September 2014 to research the population size and health of the caracal population in the Cape Peninsula.

Project Goals

  1. Establish baseline information about the caracal population in the Cape Peninsula: population size, health of individuals, and the distribution of caracals across the Peninsula.
  2. Evaluate the effects of urbanization on the behavior, movement patterns, diet, and genetic health of caracals in the Peninsula.
  3. Assess threats to survival for caracals in the Peninsula and potentially beyond to other parts of South Africa.

Project Importance

  • Urbanization is the principal threat to biodiversity conservation worldwide.
  • The Cape Peninsula is a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ that has lost almost all its large mammals such as Cape lions, leopards, brown hyena, and jackals.
  • Caracals may play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem balance since they are the largest remaining predator in the area.
  • The Cape Peninsula is isolated by urban Cape Town, an urban/agricultural matrix that is rapidly increasing in size, leading to isolation of wildlife populations.
  • The study on caracals in the Peninsula is a tool to understand how urbanization may be threatening wildlife across South Africa, and other parts of the world, similarly threatened by urbanization.

 Recommendations to live sustainably with local wildlife

  • Reduce poison use to control rodent infestations. We recommend prophylactic measures such as sealing holes in buildings and residences, removing thick vegetation that might attract rodents, and do not feed and water wildlife, which also attracts rodents.
  • Clean up after dogs if you take them on walks in natural areas, keep dogs on lead, and keep pets indoors at night. Domestic animals like cats and dogs can carry diseases that can spread to, and threaten, wildlife populations. Dogs can chase and frighten wild animals, including caracals. Keeping pets indoors at night also helps protect your pets from being hit by cars.

Ways to support the project

  • Please immediately report all road kill caracals in the Cape Town area (ie., the Peninsula and outer suburbs) to Dr. Serieys at caracal@capeleopard.org.za or 079-837-8814 
  • The project relies exclusively on donations and grant support that fund radio-collars and caracal tracking efforts, genetic analyses, supplies, pesticide and disease testing, health assessments, and many more! Please support us
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Report caracal sightings

Key project contact

  • Dr. Laurel Klein Serieys, PhD
  • Wildlife Biologist, Urban Caracal Project Coordinator
  • Caracal@CapeLeopard.org.za     
  • 079-837-8814