Call for Capetonians to report caracal sightings on Table Mountain
Cape Town - The Cape of Good Hope SPCA has urged hikers and residents to report sightings of caracals on Table Mountain following the devastating fire.
This after an untagged caracal was recently spotted at the burn site in the Rhodes Memorial area in an apparent weak and emaciated state. The SPCA said that in spite of its poor condition the caracal was still able to elude capture.
SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abrahams said: “We have been searching the area since we became aware of the caracal on Saturday morning. Both Saturday and Sunday were spent combing the area, and we returned on Sunday evening at dusk when caracal are generally more active.
“Unfortunately our search has proven fruitless. The area is vast and caracals can cover large distances.”
Urban Caracal Project PhD candidate Gabi Leighton said they hadn’t had any reports of caracals affected by the fire. Leighton said that originally 29 caracals were tagged, but over the years many of them had died. She said only 12 of those were still around (their bodies weren’t recovered).
“We estimate that on the Cape Peninsula there are around 50-60 individuals at any one time. From our GPS collar data we’ve learned that generally caracals have an interesting relationship with fire because they’re mobile. We’ve seen that they are able to move out of burning areas and hunker down in a safe spot.
“When the fire occurs close to urban areas, they avoid those burned areas, presumably because they would be easily seen by humans (as there is no vegetative cover left). But we’ve found that when they are further from urban areas, they actually choose to use burned areas, presumably to find easy prey. Prey often becomes more available, either by being flushed out by the flames, or because many fynbos species drop seeds post-burn and this attracts rodents,” she said.
Abrahams said the public could report sightings at 083 326 1604.