NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

Grumpy cat

With their sleek, streamlined body, short, reddish-gold coat, and dramatic markings on the face, caracals are among the most beautiful of wild cats.

The caracal ranges across Africa and the Middle East to India. It is keenly adapted to the potentially harsh environments of savanna, semi-desert, dry woodland, arid hilly steppe, and dry mountains. 

Like the rest of the small cats, caracals may purr when content and make a variety of other mews, growls, and hisses to express their mood. Caracals are usually silent but can cry out like a leopard.

Scent is also used to get a message across, and caracals have scent glands between their toes and on their face. The cats can sharpen their claws on a tree and mark their territory visually and with scent at the same time! The scent may serve to keep other caracals away or to indicate a willingness to breed.

Despite their secretive habits, caracals have been a part of humans’ lives for hundreds of years. In India and Iran, they were used to hunt birds for sport. Owners would have contests to see how many pigeons their cat could bring down in a single try, often reaching 10 or more! The saying “to put a cat among the pigeons” comes from this ancient practice.

The picture is shot in a rescue center for big African cats confiscated from illegal trade and the black market. 

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