In South Africa, Cape Town’s famous mountains are home to a small population of caracals – secretive, nocturnal wildcats famous for their golden fur and long, elegant ears. They are exquisitely beautiful… and desperately endangered.
Caracals are nocturnal and the area where they cling to their way of life is crisscrossed by poorly lit roads. Speeding and inattentive drivers have killed 83 in the past five years. There are now only between 50 and 60 caracals left in the area and if we don’t act now, they will all be gone.
The situation is truly heartbreaking. Mother caracals, who are still nursing kittens, are killed by cars, leaving their helpless young to starve to death. When the kittens go in search of their mothers, they too are often run over and killed.
Some cats are “lucky” and die immediately. Others suffer broken limbs, jaws or internal injuries and endure prolonged, excruciating deaths.
Another deadly threat is to young caracals who leave their mothers when they are between one and two-years-old. Many are killed before they can find their own territory. They never have the chance to breed, further sealing their population’s fate. But there is good news – if we act now, we can save these caracals from horror, and the help we can provide is simple and effective.
With your help, we can save these elusive and beautiful creatures from senseless and painful deaths.
The astonishing thing is that simply putting up road signs that warn of crossing caracals would make an enormous difference to their survival. The problem is the South African government controls road signs and the approval process is very slow. The City of Cape Town says it could take years to shepherd the necessary legislation for a national caracal road sign. Caracals don’t have years!
We have promised to raise $3,000 (£2,120) to have temporary signs created that will save caracal lives. The signs will be placed by volunteers in areas where caracals cross over roads; it’s a simple thing to do and, with your help, we can begin saving lives today.
These last caracals living in Cape Town’s mountainous peninsula are almost completely isolated from other wild areas. There is hope that in the future, we can develop wildlife corridors to safely connect these populations to other wild spaces, but without immediate help – there may be no caracals left to save by then.
Losing these beautiful creatures would make the world a poorer place. In the 13th and 14th centuries, caracals were used by rich people to hunt. They were exposed to a flock of pigeons so gamblers could bet on which caracal would kill the largest number of birds. This probably gave rise to the expression “to put the cat among the pigeons”.
It’s not often that a simple, effective and cheap solution presents itself. So please, if you possibly can, donate today and together we will ensure that in the 21st Century, instead of putting the cat among the pigeons, we will put the warning signs among the caracal, and make sure caracals and their kittens live on in the Cape Town mountains.