caracal
A caracal spotted on Simon's Town streets this week. Photo: Yolandé Oelsen
  • A caracal is roaming the streets of a Simon's Town suburb. 
  • It is one of only an estimated 50 in the entire Cape peninsula.
  • Caracals are the largest remaining predator in the Cape Town area, and are thought to play a vital role in maintaining its ecosystem balance.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Typically elusive, a caracal - also known as a “rooikat” or “lynx” – has been roaming the roads of suburban Simon’s Town, near Cape Town, during lockdown.

Simon’s Town is currently a wildlife hotspot, with penguins also wandering its streets in recent weeks.

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Resident Yolandé Oelsen, who lives in the Murdoch Valley suburb of Simon’s Town, spotted the caracal on Tuesday, early afternoon, on Main Road. She was on the look out for the wild cats from her home balcony, after neighbours’ reported sightings of a caracal.

“I suddenly saw the cat walking down the road – not at all perturbed by cars passing by.” It headed to the sea, across the road, where it scrambling over rocks and tried (unsuccessfully) to catch dassies.

Photo: Yolandé Oelsen
Photo: Yolandé Oelsen
Photo: Yolandé Oelsen
Dassies made a lucky escape from the caracal. Photo: Yolandé Oelsen

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The cat eventually disappeared in the bushes, but Oelsen returned to her lookout at around 17:00, which is peak caracal-spotting time in the neighbourhood. Caracals are nocturnal animals, but will use twilight hours to search for prey. 

They found the caracal right outside their house, catching the last rays of the afternoon sun. The cat then proceeded to walk back on the road, through the neighbourhood and disappeared into the valley, Oelsen said.

Photo: Yolandé Oelsen
Photo: Yolandé Oelsen

According to Dr. Laurel Serieys, founder of the Urban Caracal Project in Cape Town, there may be around 50 caracals across the Cape Peninsula. The project has tagged some of the local caracals for monitoring purposes. They found that one young male caracal moved from Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town to Cape Point – a distance of around 65km - in a matter of weeks, she told People’s Post

Caracals are the largest remaining predator in the Cape Town area, and are thought to play a vital role in maintaining its ecosystem balance.

Adult caracals are slender cats which typically reach a height of around 78cm, and weigh around 12kg. Serieys says caracals would usually not attack humans, but you can expect a loud hiss or spitting.

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