The caracal, Lynx caracal
, is a small feline mostly found in Africa
but also the Middle East
and even into Pakistan
. They live in savannah
, woodland, and steppe
s, and eat a lot of bird
s, as they are able to jump several feet in the air to catch them -- one caracal was filmed twist
ing in midair to catch a second bird after getting the first. They often fling the prey
a distance to stun it before actually killing it. (They have been domesticated as sport hunters in Asia
.) They will even try larger prey (eagle
They weigh from 25 to 45 pounds, are golden brown all over, and have two-inch tufts of black hair on the tips of their ears, even longer than those of lynxes and bobcats. They are nocturnal, so the hairs are supposed to increase the sensitivity of their hearing. Their name comes from a Turkish word meaning "black ears."
They are hunted down as pests in much of their habitat, but are still managing to survive in some of the least inviting environments. Some subspecies, such as the Russian caracal, are threatened, though.