Examining the behavioural and genetic response of caracals in an isolated, dynamic landscape
The Urban Caracal Project was initiated in late 2014 in a partnership between iCWild and the Cape Leopard Trust. We wanted to learn more about caracals, and whether (and how) they are adapting to increasingly human-dominated landscapes. To do this, Dr Laurel Serieys spent two years capturing and radio-collaring caracals and tracking their movements within the Cape Peninsula, South Africa with the aim of:
Establishing baseline information about the local caracal population: population size, health of individuals, and the distribution of caracals.
Evaluate the effects of urbanisation on the behaviour, movement patterns, diet, and genetic health of local caracals.
Assess threats to survival for caracals in the Cape Peninsula and potentially beyond to other parts of South Africa.
Cape Town’s urban fringes: toxic ecological traps or biodiversity buffer zones for wildlife?
Gabriella Leighton joined the Urban Caracal project in 2016, examining the diet and spatial foraging of Cape Peninsula caracal and focusing on their use of urban resources and urban areas. Gabriella is particularly interested in using in-depth stable isotope analyses to give a longer-term, integrative understanding of caracal foraging ecology. She is also quantifying the potential consequences of urban foraging within an ecological trap framework, investigating cryptic risks, particularly exposure to environmental pollutants (e.g. DDT, PCBs and rodenticides).