Surprisingly, very little is known of caracal ecology and natural history. Reported caracal population size and densities are rough estimates based on very little scientific information. Effects of caracal culling are unknown. Records on numbers of caracals slaughtered each year are probably gross underestimations since caracal pelts are of little commercial value. Considering these problems, Conservation CATalyst initiated The Caracal Project, an ongoing effort to help ensure the survival of Namibian caracals.
Our research centers on the conflict between caracals and livestock. Using GPS collars, we investigate Namibian caracal habitat use, movements, dietary preferences and behavioral habits to determine what factors contribute to caracals killing livestock. We estimate caracal population densities and prey availability in order to predict scenarios where conflicts could occur.
From a socio-political perspective, we work extensively with farmers to better understand relationships shared with caracals and predators. We interview Namibian livestock farmers to recognize the effect caracal depredation has on their livelihood. We discuss possible management strategies that prevent caracal-livestock conflicts and collaboratively develop real solutions. Importantly, we disseminate our findings to the entire Namibian farming community, since scientific research cannot translate into conservation action without addressing both sides of the predator-livestock debate.