They’ve long been seen further out near Simola, Noetzie and Rheenendal (which have closer proximity to Knysna forests) but Hunter’s Home (an area of houses, roads and a golf course) is in easy reach of the town’s centre.
Wonder is easy to acknowledge and needs no explanation. I’m amongst those who have found yet another reason to say, “Knysna is the best place to live!”
The fear aspect is also understandable because a male caracal, often mistaken as a lynx, can grow up to 18kg and take down smaller bushbuck and blue duiker which can be found in the area. They are opportunists in that they will eat lizards, porcupines and your household pets-
-yes, your pet cat or dog. An ex-resident of Lake Brenton said that he witnessed his neighbour’s Jack Russell barely escape through a door flap after which the caracal had to be driven off because it wouldn’t leave the porch. Domestic cats have been killed from Rheenedal to The Crags.
Steven Hendriks, the marketing manager for the Tenikwa Wildlife Centre, says that’s unlikely. He says that caracal are generally afraid of humans. Human contact is stressful to them.
However, do not corner them or try to capture them. They are still wild animals and can be dangerous if forced into the wrong situation.
When KAWS called Tenikwa to attend to a young caracal that had hidden by the rubbish bins of Premier Hotel in George Rex Drive, they had to clear an escape route so as to encourage it to leave. It then vanished into the field that’s between the hotel and Hunter’s Home residents, opposite Knysna Golf Course.
Could this have been the same cat in the photo that headed this article? Yes, it’s possible.
Alternatively, it could be from the same litter – these photos show the caracal/s, to be approximately 1-year old. Litters range from 1 to 6. Round 10 months of age, they become independent and look for their own territory. If the litter happened on or near Pezula or the Duthie Farm, the caracal may be battling to mark out its own space without conflicting with another.
That reasoning is more likely than the rumours that Pezula (now divided into the Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa, Pezula Golf and Pezula Private Estate) has been driving them, along with baboons, down towards the suburbs.
Leonard McLean, the Operations Manager for Pezula Private Estate, has responded that there have often been sightings and that that they are allowed to roam unhindered. The luxury, gated community even has a road called Caracal Crescent. Gert Venter, Conrad Pezula’s ex-manager said that, “I believe Pezula promotes the fact that cararcal are on the estate and I have seen them walk over the road a couple of times while driving there.”
What’s the future for this young caracal? That’s hard to determine. Let’s hope that it finds a comfortable territory rich in birds, moles etc. so that local pets are safe… and thus the caracal is safe from pet owner or golfer outrage. This may become a good lesson in how our town can live up to its slogan of, “Naturally Knysna.”
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