To catch – not kill – a ‘mocking’ caracal

2016-09-27 06:00

Efforts are underway to capture a caracal that has been killing African penguins in Simon’s Town. A second of these predators has reportedly moved into the area and is preying on the endangered species.

The City of Cape Town released a statement saying the area between Links Crescent, the golf course and Froggy Pond will be closed to the public from 18:00 to 06:00 daily to allow a capture team to work in the area. These times will remain in place until Friday 30 September.

In recent weeks, the City has noted a substantial increase in the level of predation by one or more caracal on the African penguin colony in Simon’s Town.

In agreement with the Department of Environmental Affairs and CapeNature, the City has intervened in order to capture and relocate the animal away from the penguin colony.

Three months ago, the City successfully trapped and moved another caracal, which has not returned.

Following a spate of penguin fatalities over two weeks in July, the City and Table Mountain National Park identified a large caracal as the perpetrator. Initial evidence suggested the presence of one or more caracals in the area and as such, the City installed trap cameras to confirm this assumption.

Images of the predator were finally captured on camera, confirming the presence of a large caracal (“Caracal behind penguin killings”, People’s Post, 12 July).

Natural predation by an indigenous animal is considered part of the natural patterns and processes in the ecosystem and the prey is not favoured above the predator, explains the City’s Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe.

“However, when a particular predator starts changing normal predation behaviour and kills multiple individuals – more than what is required for feeding – there is cause for concern, more so if the prey species is listed as endangered and the number and frequency of the kills become unsustainable in the population. The management authorities are then placed in a difficult position and need to consider the most viable and best option for the ecosystem as a whole.”

The City suspects that the recent killings are all from one young adult animal that has moved into the area, explains Van der Merwe. “Extensive efforts are being made to capture the caracal over the next two weeks. We therefore ask members of the public for their patience and cooperation during this time,” he says.

All capture methods to be used over the next two weeks are designed for the live capture of the animal so that it can be relocated. The methods are humane and used in terms of a permit issued by CapeNature.

V To learn more about caracals and their behaviour on the peninsula, visit

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