This is an update to my previous post from 11 November on the caramel caracal kittens that appears here https://fionaayerst.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/caramel-caracals/ . When I first saw the kittens we reckoned they were about 4 weeks old and I went back to check on them at about 8 weeks. Unfortunately, one had died from unknown causes…. it’s all about survival of the fittest I suppose. The remaining two kittens are a male and female and are both sporting lovely rounded fat spotty tummies and velvety soft paws- until the claws come out that is . I took a look at the size of those claws- they are nothing like a domestic cats!
I decided to try and get some pictures of them with white and black backgrounds so that you can see their features clearly as they are incredibly beautiful cats. I love all cats but these guys are something special. The emerging photos looked like a model shoot- but I think that works well for them as they are as gorgeous as models. I have so many favourite photos of them it was impossible for me to choose and so at the end of this post you will find quite a selection. Some with black and one with white backgrounds- I think they look great in front of either.
I was especially interested to see how the caracal kittens eyes are changing colour. From the baby blue in the first shoot 4 weeks ago- to a stunning aquamarine blue/green now. I am guessing that by the next time I see them the eyes will all be lime-slate green. You can see against the white- how the hairs on the tips of their ears are starting to grow.
Their carers have been trying to feed them correctly and spend as little time as possible with them so that when they are ready ( around 9 months ) they can be released back into the wild where they belong. Sometimes kittens are orphaned when their mothers are shot. The male caracal does not care for his young and does not stay with the female after mating. On occasions the farmers may find the kittens due to the loud hissing or calling noises they make and some farmers may take the babies to a rehabilitation center to be raised. The babies are not perceived as a threat as they are so small (and cute). The photos used in this article were photographed at one such center in the Western Cape of South Africa. It is difficult to raise a predator and to rehabilitate it and those who try often do more harm than good. It is possible that kittens that get hand- raised are on the incorrect diet and this could result in hypocalcemia. This means the cat will have softened and brittle vertebrae and bones. Most rehabilitation centers appeal to the public – not to attempt to raise any wildlife orphans at home, but rather contact a reputable rehabilitation center to take on this daunting, but rewarding, task.
If you want to have a chance to photo animals like this come and join onto my wildlife and adventure sports internship program in Mossel Bay. See http://www.oceans-campus.com to book and for more info. Should you hear of anyone with caracal kittens please let them know the contents of this blog and contact the landmark foundation or myself so that we can advise where they should go to be afforded the best chance in life. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the pictures of these supreme predators who I have been happy to photograph- what a special gift. How lucky I am. Enjoy the mix of photos.