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The Mascot of the 7 South African Infantry Battalion was a Lynx

Name: Not known at this time.


Information compiled by Tony Macquet


7 South African Infantry Battalion is a motorised infantry unit of the South African Army. 7 SAI was established on the 1st October 1973, at Bourke's Luck, Eastern Transvaal (Mpumalanga) by Commandant Eddie Webb.

The first national servicemen began training there in 1974 and in 1980, 7 SAI relocated to Phalaborwa.

Country: South Africa

Garrison/HQ: Phalaborwa, Limpopo


 

This picture was taken at Phalaborwa in circa 1985.

photographer : Tony Macquet

Known officially as the caracal, the Lynx is

medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the

Middle East, Central Asia, and arid areas of Pakistan and north-western India. It is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears, and long canine teeth. Its coat is uniformly reddish tan or sandy, while the ventral parts are lighter with small reddish markings. It reaches 40–50 cm (16–20 in) at the shoulder and weighs 8–19 kg (18–42 lb). It was first scientifically described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1776.


Typically, nocturnal, the caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial, and lives mainly alone or in pairs. The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon small mammals, birds, and rodents. It can leap higher than 4 metres (12 ft) and catch birds in mid-air. It stalks its prey until it is within 5 m (16 ft) of it, after which it runs it down and kills its prey with a bite to the throat or to the back of the neck. Both sexes become sexually mature by the time they are one year old and breed throughout the year. Gestation lasts between two and three months, resulting in a litter of one to six kittens. Juveniles leave their mothers at the age of nine to ten months, though a few females stay back with their mothers. The average lifespan of captive caracals is nearly 16 years.


Caracals can be tamed, as can be seen with its Rifleman Handler and used for coursing in India, Persia and Egypt.

The caracal is also known as desert lynx and Persian lynx.

A close facial view of a caracal, with the typical tufted ears and the black facial markings.

Caracals are efficient climbers


 

Characteristics

Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caracal


The caracal is typically nocturnal (active at night), though some activity may be observed during the day as well. However, the cat is so secretive and difficult to observe that its activity at daytime might easily go unnoticed. A study in South Africa showed that caracals are most active when the air temperature drops below 20 °C (68 °F); activity typically ceases at higher temperatures.


A solitary cat, the caracal mainly occurs alone or in pairs; the only groups seen are of mothers with their offspring. Females in oestrus temporarily pair with males. A territorial animal, the caracal marks rocks and vegetation in its territory with urine and probably with dung, which is not covered with soil. Claw scratching is prominent, and dung middens are typically not formed.


In Israel, males are found to have territories averaging 220 km2 (85 sq mi), while that of females averaged 57 km2 (22 sq mi). The male territories vary from 270–1,116 km2 (104–431 sq mi) in Saudi Arabia. In Mountain Zebra National Park, the home ranges of females vary between 4.0 and 6.5 km2 (1.5 and 2.5 sq mi). These territories overlap extensively. The conspicuous ear tufts and the facial markings often serve as a method of visual communication; caracals have been observed interacting with each other by moving the head from side to side so that the tufts flicker rapidly. Like other cats, the caracal meows, growls, hisses, spits, and purrs.


Both sexes become sexually mature by the time they are a year old; production of gametes begins even earlier at seven to ten months. However, successful mating takes place only at 12 to 15 months. Breeding takes place throughout the year. Oestrus, one to three days long, recurs every two weeks unless the female is pregnant. Females in oestrus show a spike in urine-marking, and form temporary pairs with males. Mating has not been extensively studied; a limited number of observations suggest that copulation, lasting nearly four minutes on an average, begins with the male smelling the areas urine-marked by the female, which then rolls on the ground. Following this, the male approaches and mounts the female. The pair separate after copulation.[21][22]


Gestation lasts about two to three months, following which a litter consisting of one to six kittens is born. Births generally peak from October to February. Births take place in dense vegetation or deserted burrows of aardvarks and porcupines. Kittens are born with their eyes and ears shut and the claws not retractable (unable to be drawn inside); the coat resembles that of adults, but the abdomen is spotted. Eyes open by ten days, but it takes longer for the vision to become normal. The ears become erect and the claws become retractable by the third or the fourth week. Around the same time, the kittens start roaming their birthplace, and start playing among themselves by the fifth or the sixth week. They begin taking solid food around the same time; they have to wait for nearly three months before they make their first kill. As the kittens start moving about by themselves, the mother starts shifting them every day. All the milk teeth appear in 50 days, and permanent dentition is completed in 10 months. Juveniles begin dispersing at nine to ten months, though a few females stay back with their mothers. The average lifespan of the caracal in captivity is nearly 16 years.[21][26][46]

In the 1990s, a captive caracal spontaneously mated with a domestic cat in the Moscow Zoo, resulting in a felid hybrid offspring.[47]

 

Threats


The caracal is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as it is widely distributed in over 50 range countries, where the threats to caracal populations vary in extent. Habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, the building of roads and settlements is a major threat in all range countries. It is thought to be close to extinction in North Africa, critically endangered in Pakistan, endangered in Jordan, but stable in central and Southern Africa. Local people kill caracal to protect livestock, or in retaliation for its preying on small livestock. Additionally, it is threatened by hunting for the pet trade on the Arabian Peninsula. In Turkey and Iran, caracals are frequently killed in road accidents.[1] In Uzbekistan, the major threat to caracal is killing by herders in retaliation for livestock losses. Guarding techniques and sheds are inadequate to protect small livestock like goats and sheep from being attacked by predators. Additionally, similarly to Ethiopia, heavy-traffic roads crossing caracal habitat pose a potential threat for the species.[29]


 

Conservation

A caracal in the San Diego Zoo

African caracal populations are listed under CITES Appendix II, while Asian populations come under CITES Appendix I. Hunting of caracal is prohibited in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Caracals occur in a number of protected areas across their range.[1]

In South Africa, the caracal is considered Least Concern, as it is widespread and adaptable to a variety of habitats. It is tolerant to human-dominated areas, although it has been persecuted for many decades. Farmers are encouraged to report sightings of caracals, both dead and alive, and livestock killed by caracals to the national Predation Management Information Centre.[48]

The Central Asian caracal population is listed as Critically Endangered in Uzbekistan since 2009, and in Kazakhstan since 2010.[29][49][50]


 

In Culture

A cheetah and a caracal kept for coursing by Rajasthani royalty, c. 1890[51]

The caracal appears to have been religiously significant in the ancient Egyptian culture, as it occurs in paintings and as bronze figurines; sculptures are thought to have guarded the tombs of pharaohs.[52] Embalmed caracals have also been discovered.[53]

The caracal was esteemed for its ability to catch birds in flight and was used for coursing by Mughal emperors in India at least since the Delhi Sultanate.[37] Chinese emperors used caracals as gifts. In the 13th and the 14th centuries, Yuan dynasty rulers bought numerous caracals, cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and tigers (Panthera tigris) from Muslim merchants in the western parts of the empire in return for gold, silver, cash and silk. According to the Ming Shilu, the subsequent Ming dynasty continued this practice. Until as recently as the 20th century, the caracal was used in hunts by Indian rulers to hunt small game, while the cheetah was used for larger game.[54] In those times, caracals were used to hunt bustards, francolins, and other game birds.[55] They were also placed in arenas with flocks of pigeons and people would bet on which caracal would kill the largest number of pigeons. This probably gave rise to the expression "to put the cat among the pigeons".[45] Its pelt was used for making fur coats.[26]



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