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Humans drastically impact the environment in multiple ways that have downstream consequences for biodiversity conservation. Yet few studies investigate the many ways that urbanisation influences wildlife populations so that threats can be mitigated when possible.

iCWild's work

Examining the behavioural and genetic response of caracals in an isolated, dynamic landscape

The Urban Caracal Project was initiated in late 2014 in a partnership between iCWild and the Cape Leopard Trust. We wanted to learn more about caracals, and whether (and how) they are adapting to increasingly human-dominated landscapes. To do this, Dr Laurel Serieys spent two years capturing and radio-collaring caracals and tracking their movements within the Cape Peninsula, South Africa with the aim of: 

  • Establishing baseline information about the local caracal population: population size, health of individuals, and the distribution of caracals.

  • Evaluate the effects of urbanisation on the behaviour, movement patterns, diet, and genetic health of local caracals.

  • Assess threats to survival for caracals in the Cape Peninsula and potentially beyond to other parts of South Africa.

Cape Town’s urban fringes: toxic ecological traps or biodiversity buffer zones for wildlife?

Gabriella Leighton joined the Urban Caracal project in 2016, examining the diet and spatial foraging of Cape Peninsula caracal and focusing on their use of urban resources and urban areas. Gabriella is particularly interested in using in-depth stable isotope analyses to give a longer-term, integrative understanding of caracal foraging ecology. She is also quantifying the potential consequences of urban foraging within an ecological trap framework, investigating cryptic risks, particularly exposure to environmental pollutants (e.g. DDT, PCBs and rodenticides).

Project team

Laurel Serieys (iCWild), Principal investigator and Project contact

Gabriella Leighton (iCWild), PhD Student

Jacqueline Bishop (iCWild), Supervisor

Justin O’Riain (iCWild), Supervisor

Chris Wilmers (University of Santa Cruz), Supervisor

Rafael Mateo (IREC/University of Castilla-La Mancha), Collaborator

William Froneman (Rhodes University), Collaborator

Collaborators and funders

Related outputs

View the Urban Caracal website here. Click here to view iCWild's full output list, and use the filter tool to view outputs related to the Urban caracal project.