Home-range use, activity, and density of caracal in relation to prey density

Avenant N.L. ; Nel J.A.J. (1998)


Two male and three female caracal Felis caracal were radio-tracked over a 1-year period in arid shrub on the west coast of South Africa, by day and night over at least 130 days for each caracal, and uninterrupted for up to 120 h at a time. These results, on short-term use of space, were related to concurrent availability of prey. The use by caracal of specific plant communities showed a significant positive correlation to prey biomass of rodents. Males had much larger home-ranges (26.9 ± 0.75 km2) than females (7.39 ± 1.68 km2). Male home-ranges overlapped completely with those of females, whereas female ranges overlapped between 0 and 19%. Caracal were active by night and day; onset of activity was affected more by ambient temperature (T(A)) than photoperiod. Caracal were active significantly longer on nights colder than 20°C. Females ceased activity at T(A) > 20°C, males at T(A) > 22°C. Males foraged faster than females (667 vs. 312m h-1) and moved more than twice the distance of females during an active period. Calculated density of caracal was between 0.23 and 0.47 km-2.

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