Cableway sponsors caracal collar for the Urban Caracal Project

Cableway sponsors caracal collar for the Urban Caracal Project

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Jasper the caracal wore a collar similar to one that the Cableway has sponsored, which enables the Urban Caracal Project to collect invaluable data about these cats' behaviours

The Table Mountain Cableway has taken its commitment to responsible tourism one step further by successfully sponsoring a new caracal (rooikat) collar, as part of the Urban Caracal Project.

The Urban Caracal Project was established in Cape Town in September 2014 by Dr Laurel Serieys and the Cape Leopard Trust, in partnership with the University of Cape Town and the University of California, Santa Cruz to investigate the secret lives of caracals living in green areas around our city. The idea was based on successful conservation work Laurel had done on bobcats in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, California. 

Laurel approached the Cape Leopard Trust to enquire about undertaking groundbreaking research to evaluate the population size and health of caracals living in the Cape Peninsula, which is an area similar geographically to where Laurel had worked in the US, to see if these animals face the same challenges.

Caracals are just one of the animal species that roam Table Mountain, and quite a number of the collared cats were captured on the front and back of the mountain. One caracal was seen at the Upper Cable Station.

The Cableway’s collar arrived for programming and deployment in October 2015, and is assisting the Urban Caracal Project to collect invaluable data for its initiatives.

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Helen Turnbull with a caracal collar

“These amazing collars, manufactured by FollowIt in Sweden, are set to provide us with sophisticated GPS satellite tracking positioning. The programming procedure can range from setting a four times a day to general range monitoring. This is where the most interesting data is coming up, showing that these cats are moving over much larger distances than we ever could have imagined. We would like to say a big ‘thank-you’ to all of you at the Table Mountain Cableway for supporting this valuable project,” says Helen Turnbull, acting chief executive officer of the Cape Leopard Trust.

The urgency for collars arose when Jasper, pictured above, was recently killed crossing the M3. Thanks to his collar, the Urban Caracal Project has learned that young males are far more likely to be crossing busy highways than older males. This appears to be natural behaviour as they are trying to find a territory of their own, which is limited by the urban fringe. The Project has been working with one of its partners, Avis, to encourage drivers to watch out for our wildlife.

How you can help

Spotted a caracal in your area? Firstly, enjoy the moment. It is a rare privilege to see these amazing and elusive cats living among us. Stay still and observe at a distance. Email Dr Laurel Serieys and let her know where you have seen the animal, at caracal@capeleopard.org.za.

For more information about the Urban Caracal Project, please visit www.urbancaracal.org.

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