1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Caracal (animal)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

CARACAL (Lynx caracal), sometimes called Persian lynx, an animal widely distributed throughout south-western Asia, and over a large portion of Africa. It is somewhat larger than a fox, of a uniform reddish brown colour above, and whitish beneath, with two white spots above each of the eyes, and a tuft of long black hair at the tip of the ears; to these it owes its name, which is derived from Turkish words signifying “black-ear.” There is little information as to the habits of this animal in a wild state. Dr W. T. Blanford considers that it dwells among grass and bushes rather than in forests. Its prey is said to consist largely of gazelles, small deer, hares and peafowl and other birds. The caracal is easily tamed, and in some parts of India is trained to capture the smaller antelopes and deer and such birds as the crane and pelican. According to Blyth, it is a favourite amusement among the natives to let loose a couple of tame caracals among a flock of pigeons feeding on the ground, when each will strike down a number of birds before the flock can escape. Frequent reference is made in Greek and Roman literature to the lynx, and from such descriptions as are given of it there is little doubt that the caracal, and not the European lynx, was referred to. In South Africa, where the caracal abounds, its hide is made by the Zulus into skin-cloaks, known as karosses. According to W. L. Sclater, these when used as blankets are said to be beneficial in cases of rheumatism; an ointment prepared from the fat of the animal being employed for the same purpose. The North African caracal has been separated as Lynx, or Caracal, berberorum, but it is best regarded as a local race.