Ecology and diet of the caracal (Caracal caracal) on lethal and non-lethal control farms in the Karoo
Jooste, Erin Cecilia
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Human-wildlife conflict is an ongoing issue worldwide. Within South Africa, human-carnivore conflict (HCC) as a result of carnivore depredation on small-livestock causes large-scale losses, and promotes the use of predator management tools by farmers. Despite being one of the major offenders involved in HCC, caracals, and their ecology in particular, are understudied. This is mainly due to high levels of persecution, coupled with their elusive nature. Within the Karoo region of South Africa, pastoralists make use of large-scale lethal predator controls in an attempt to remove the offenders, or non-lethal predator controls to protect livestock and deter predators. However, the effects of these various predator control techniques on caracal ecology have not been widely tested. Therefore, the aims of this thesis were, firstly, to assess caracal diet on lethal and non-lethal treatment farms in the Karoo; secondly, to investigate the drivers of caracal habitat selection on a non-lethal farm in the Karoo; and finally, to evaluate caracal activity patterns on the non-lethal farm.