Most of the caracals were killed in vehicle collisions, poaching, dog attacks and fires, and some died of illness, according to the Urban Caracal Project.
One of the latest incidents occurred in Noordhoek where a caracal was caught in a snare, said the project’s co-ordinator, Dr Laurel Serieys.
“SANParks rangers were patrolling the wetlands when they discovered an adult tagged female caracal named ‘Spitfire’ in a neck snare. They called the SPCA and were able to safely release Spitfire back into the wetlands.
“However, after releasing her, they discovered the skin of a young caracal which they collected for our study,” Serieys said.
She said caracals were up against a lot of challenges in the peninsula.
“Between poisons, cars, poachers, disease (contracted from domestic animals), and increasing habitat loss, we are fortunate that there’s a species that can survive in the midst of it all. Poachers kill caracals even if they’re not targeting them. This is not our first case of documented poaching.”
She said a GPS-collared caracal was poached in the Noordhoek wetlands in 2017 as well, and the team were able to release a caracal from a gin trap in Hout Bay the previous year.
“These are just the cases we know about in the Cape Peninsula and there are undoubtedly more. The caracals aren’t targeted per se, but poachers are after food, and targeting anything that will walk into their traps.”
For more information, visit http://www.urbancaracal.org. If you spot caracal roadkill, call 0798378814.