African cats make great Aussie mates
THEY might look like slightly exotic house cats — but Kato and Kaia are Australia’s only caracals, a rare African predator, and have been brought here to help save the species.
They have been specially imported from South Africa by Ben Britton, director of Wild Animal Encounters Foundation, to help protect the species.
These two are just five months old but, fully grown, they will weigh in at 18kg.
These carnivorous cats hunt their prey using lightning-fast sprints at short distances and can use their sensitive ears to detect prey. Caracals are also extremely acrobatic, leaping 3m to catch birds on the wing.
Kaito and Kaia have been brought to the foundation to establish the first breeding program in Australia and over the coming months will learn to hunt together. Over the next few months, the public will have the opportunity to meet the two new residents of the Hawkesbury Conservation Centre and learn about the work the foundation is doing to help protect them.
Caracal numbers are dropping rapidly in their native habitats in North Africa and Asia.
“We want to show the smaller wild cats and the plight they’re under, giving people the opportunity to come out, learn what a caracal is, and try and get peop le involved in caracal preservation,” Mr Britton said.
Wild Animal Encounters’ new caracals Kaia and Kato, and (below) getting a cuddle from Kahlia Angus. Pictures: Gregg Porteous