I visited my wee pals the “rooikat” again recently. Their ears have grown more than their bodies this time . Especially the male- he has ears almost as long as his body is tall and wonderful fluffy tufts on the ends. The female is quite a bit smaller and shyer than the male.
There is much controversy about the keeping of animals that are supposed to be wild and the photo of me holding one of my subjects, and my son sitting near another- will not appeal to all. These days it is a very hard debate especially for caracal. Some people will say there is no debate and that all wild animals should be free. Is this a realistic view today? Some will say all caracal should be dead….. How to shoot captive animals and their relationships with humans is something we talk about a lot in my wildlife photography program
Caracals have a bit of a raw deal actually- even more raw than other “apex” cats. In the wild caracal are blamed for stock deaths, especially that of lambs – and they are shot with wild abandon by angry farmers. Rooikat have no protection under the law and farmers can kill as many as they can find in whichever way they chose. It seems that kittens are often the innocent victims and some farmers are too soft to kill them too. This pair has found themselves in a rehabilitation program after a farmer shot their mother. A pair of kittens without a mother will not survive especially in the area they were found- right in the middle of farmland.Can these two kittens be released? As you will see from the album pictures these wild animals are very comfortable around humans. Will they be able to fend for themselves and would they be safe if released ? “Yes” say the experts. Ideally these kittens will be given a “soft release” meaning that they could be released near where they are being looked after (on a reserve) and they will be able to return to their care-givers, as and when they need to.
A friend in Wilderness (about 100 km’s from here) told me that a caracal and two kittens had moved into town recently. The mother left and one of the kittens was run over on the highway. Before this, 42 local cats went missing, presumed to have been taken by the caracal mother. As much as I love caracal I am pretty relieved that I do not live in Wilderness right now. I have four beloved cats and I started to understand a little more – how a farmer would feel after having baby lambs taken.According to the Landmark Foundation farmers may often shoot to kill without knowing all the facts and caracal are often not the cause of stock losses.Whatever your thoughts on this controversial subject- one thing are clear- the kittens are alive and will be released back into the wild later this year.