31 August, 2012

Caracal at Driehoek for the Cape Leopard Trust

It’s been 3 months since Jurg last went to Driehoek volunteering to monitor traps for the Cape Leopard Trust. This time, the signal went off near Quinton’s base at Matjiesriver. 

Jurg with sedated caracal
Photo by Dawie Burger of Driehoek

The team met at the walk thru trap for caracal. Jurg wanted to take a picture of the caracal IN the trap – but Dr. Quinton Martins was adamant. ‘We have to get the caracal out of the cage, before he hurts himself!’ First the welfare of the caracal.
Then the scientific research. Then, the photo ops. (Hence the quality of some of our photos today).

Walk thru trap
Transport crate in CLT bakkie

This was a simple walk thru trap, set up on the path, no bait. The caracal is transferred to a transport crate. Thanks to the vet the animal is sedated. Gathered into a net to weigh him – 13.8 KG.

Caracal still in the old collar

Beautiful animals, caracals have distinctive tufted ears! Altho Klonkies is an older male. Battle-scarred by buck who evaded his slowing reflexes and fading strength.
Your man will not come home empty handed...we caught MC3 (“Klonkies”) this morning and re-collared him with a GPS collar. He is a rather old cat – caught for the first time in June 2010. He was in poor condition then and I am surprised he is still alive. This time he had a few nasty wounds likely from a hunting incident a few weeks ago – (Quinton’s email to me)
The decision of the vet Dr Marc Walton was not to stitch the wound, but to treat it and leave it open.

Caracal teeth and claws

Still an issue with the cages, a couple of claws were damaged. However, the new cages being tested are showing good success in this department. Another identifying feature of Klonkies was a chip off one of his canines – again war wounds from the ‘berg - Quinton.
His collar was due for replacement, so we took the opportunity to replace it with a modern GPS collar.  Funded from donations. If you live in South Africa, shop at Woolworths and have a MyPlanet loyalty card, you can choose the Cape Leopard Trust as one of your 3 beneficiaries.
We hope we can get another 3-6 months data from this old guy. It’s amazing – years back these caracal would have been killed by farmers in the Cederberg Conservancy, now they are left alone to do their own thing unhindered and not persecuted. Rocky, the other male has been monitored for almost 4 years now - Quinton

The discarded old, and the fitted new collars
Jurg with 'his' caracal

Driehoek is 2 hours driving, at 950m (800m higher than our home in Porterville). Early winter mornings meant that the tank of water for camping in the Land Rover was frozen solid. With a centimetre thick layer of ice on the puddles and streams. Frost hazing the landscape.

Ice at Driehoek

Heavy rain on Saturday meant the rivers ran deeper. Hurrying to the occupied trap, Jurg simply drove thru. Water coming in at the bottom of the doors. But remaining safely below the air intake of the engine. Or he would have been stuck in the middle of nowhere. Cold and walking …

Driving for nature conservation

The river flows past the camp site, bordered by Cape restios – and now with the winter bonus of snowy mountains beyond.

Restios along the river at Driehoek, snow on the Middelberg

On Driehoek farm there are 4 white horses, and a black pig who is besties with just the one horse. The two are always together. An armoured beetle hitched a lift on the caracal cage.

Armoured beetle, black pig and white horse at Driehoek

On the right beneath the trees is the Driehoek campsite.

Driehoek campsite to the right, with snow-capped Middelberg

The CLT story continues with the elusive Cape mountain leopard Spot in December.

Pictures by Jurg, and Dawie Burger of Driehoek
words by Diana of  Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, 
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. 
Those are my links.)


  1. wow! You live amazing and exciting life, because you can see and be a part of that all. It must be exciting to see different, wild animals. I'm impressed! Those pig and horse are a cute couple!

    1. He gets the adrenaline rush, I keep the home fires burning, and write the blog post.

  2. What a great post, been a while since I have seen one, last in Karoo. They are beautiful cats. Reading your story it seems old klonkies still has some fight in him! Good for him! LT

  3. What an amazing life you live, Diana! So exciting.
    That caracal looks as docile as kitty-cat cradled in Jurg's arms. Right until you focussed on those teeth and claws! Wow!

  4. Wonderfully interesting post. This is a beautiful cat. How neat that a horse and a pig are best friends.


  5. I always love your animal tales...this was no exception. What a beautiful creature the caracal is!
    Jane x

  6. Diana, this has to be one of the most fascinating posts I have ever read. I had never heard of animals like these, and to see them close up, and the country that they live in, what an amazing amount of information to think about.

    The amount of dedication to just get to the spot where they are captured boggles the mind.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  7. 1. super cool! So glad to hear they are being left alone v. frequently shot at.
    2. it warms my heart that the man in charge of the work basically said photos are lowest priority of all. I think may people do not understand how stressful wildlife interaction with humans can be, so I'm also all about RAPIDLY processing the animal and letting it go ASAP, great photos be, um, darned. =)
    3. the caracal looks like it's maybe a bit bigger than our bobcats, but I'd guess they fill about the same niche. Super adaptive hunters, solo creatures, and always a treat to see. Nice work!

  8. Klonkies must be a very wily cat to have managed for so long. I hope some day research can give us insight into how individual animals develop skills and strategies and "personalities" to survive and adapt--not just the "instinctive" skills we assume they have. Glad the Conservancy is making such a tangible difference. It's a pleasure to see a little wintry ice today...

  9. Love the photo of Jurg with the Caracal ... what a magnificent cat it is.

  10. Jurg is doing such great work, Your photo's and blog are also fantastic, helping to highlight the issues. Great to know that farmers are now finally seeing the light.

  11. Diana, I enjoy getting a taste of your exotic (to me) life! My own husband was walking by and expressed admiration for Jurg's work. We are both great lovers of wildlife. The photos of the snow capped mountains are spectacular, and the white horse and black pig make a very cute couple!

  12. Poor caracal Diana i hope his wound heals up. I do believe iv'e never seen a white horse before. The scenery is beautiful and those snowcapped mountains.

  13. Diana I am in awe of the landscapes in your pictures...so beautiful in winter. I love this cat but it is the first I have heard of it or seen one...what an amazing animal...I am so glad that my small donation may help this majestic animal.

    1. We are delighted that your donation and ours, and Jurg's time and effort - is being the difference we want to see.

  14. What a treat!!! I love your cat adventure stories. What a beautiful creature. I don't think I've ever seen one before. I hope his claws heal up. Looks absolutely wonderful right now in your area. Glad to hear that they are left alone and not killed like before. The same is happening here for our Jaguar population....and they too are coming back. All exciting.

  15. Diana, thank you for the fascinating Caracal-photo-story.
    All my best wishes for the cat.
    The landscape photos are amazing, too!
    Have a nice day

  16. Beautiful animal, what a privilege to be able to work with one.

  17. Diana, you live is such a beautiful part of the world. The views you've shown in the past from your garden are spectacular and being so involved with the wildlife is amazing. Thank you for this very interesting post. Christina

  18. LOVED THIS POST - such a different world you live in. Wow. xxxxx

  19. Wonderful post! I had never heard of a caracal.

  20. What a beautiful cat! I'm glad Klonkie's fate was to be reacquainted with this conservation team. Too bad life has been difficult him and other wild predators. We should all be thankful for people who dedicate themselves to preserving them. Thank you for sharing these stories!

  21. The first time I saw a caracal in the wild was on a dirt road on my way to pick up guests at a game lodge. I nearly went off the road in excitement.

  22. What a great post, Diana! The caracal is a beautiful animal, and I, too, am amazed that this war-torn beauty has survived. It is a testament to the wild creatures ability to survive.

  23. Diana, your last photo particularly took my breath away. What an amazing view. I was really taken with your caracal - the face reminded me of our cougars but with lynx ears. Despite being so far away our animals have many similarities.

  24. What a wonderful animal is the caracal!
    I have a great fondness for cheetahs, but must learn more about this fellow. Thank you for the nice post.

  25. not only interesting post, but a good news story, to help us jaded greenies keep up our spirits. The landscape is so wonderful, I wanted to be camping there too.

  26. oh my gosh what an adventure, beautiful photos, I enjoyed this so much,

    glad I'm a vegetarian too,

  27. A very pretty animal in a beautiful landscape. It must always be an adventure.

  28. If we all do a little, a lot can be accomplished.

  29. Fascinating, Diana. Your caracal looks much like our mountain lion or cougar but without those beautiful ears. They live in the mountains above us and are very elusive, it's very rare to see them. I have friends that live near Capetown. I'll tell them to shop Woolworth and use the Loyalty card. One of my son's and his wife will be visiting there in January. I'm sharing your blog link with them, I know they will enjoy it as much as I. I so enjoy seeing your beautiful countryside.

    1. Your Cape Town friend's support of the CLT will be deeply appreciated!

  30. This is a really interesting Blog.
    It's the first time I come here and I will come back.
    Thank You for sharing.

  31. Diana - phenomenal post. So few of us will ever have an 'up close and personal ' experience like this, and yet you provide us a window to your world. Thank you! (so much for those voracious rabbits in my backyard in suburbia)

  32. Wow, Diana, what an amazing landscape you live in. I'm blown away. How wonderful.


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Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

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