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Natural UAE

Caracal

Much smaller than the leopard is the handsome caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi). Standing some 40 cms at the shoulders, it is the second largest of the wild cats that occur in the United Arab Emirates. Once widespread in the open desert as well as the hills it is now confined to the mountains where it cannot be hunted so easily by man. Light brown to sandy in colour it has strong black facial markings, with the back of the ears and the long tufts also being black. It has the typical square lynx appearance, with long legs and a relatively short, slender but strong body and a short blunt tail. A very agile hunter, it preys mainly on birds and small mammals and reptiles but has little difficulty in killing a tahr, gazelles or goats. Breeding probably takes place all year round but with seasonal peaks, and after a gestation period of about 75 days, the female gives birth to litters of two to three cubs. The young caracals are born blind in a burrow excavated by another animal, or in any other sheltered place that is suitable. Since they seem to be active also during daylight hours, they are more easily observed by hikers and hunters than the other Arabian carnivores. Most of the time, however, they hunt at night and spend the day resting, giving preference to a shady place with a good field of vision. The ALT survey in 1995 indicated that caracal numbers are still relatively high, but this will only remain so if killing of the animals by hunters is kept to a minimum.

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