What do African lynx eat?

“African lynx” is an old-fashioned name for the caracal; this species of wild cat is the only lynx-like animal in Africa. However, the caracal range spreads into the Middle East and Western Asia and therefore to describe the cat as African is incorrect and the name was abandoned in favor of ‘caracal’.

Caracal leaping to catch bird - What do African lynx eat?
Caracal leaping to catch a bird. Typical prey attack behavior for this cat.
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Having got that out of the way I can describe what this medium-sized wild cat species eats. I immediately think of this super-athletic cat leaping in the air to catch a bird which has just taken off. They are famous for the height of the leap and the efficacy of the attack. A guinea-fowl might be the victim.

There are reports of the caracal killing birds ranging in size from quail to guinea-fowl, eagles and ostriches. This cat’s mammalian prey includes “almost anything from mice to hares and antelope”. Although in general prey weighs less than 5 kg such as hares, hyrax, small rodents and of course birds.


They can kill larger prey such as antelope, sheep and goats. However they can present a problem to farmers in killing domestic stock. There is a report of a group of farmers in South Africa using dogs to hunt down caracals. One hundred and three of the cats were killed and about half of the stomach contents contained the remains of sheep and goats. A quarter of the stomachs were empty and the remaining quarter contained hyraxes or unidentified prey. Thus confirming that caracals kill domestic livestock. The events took place in 1979 (Pringle and Pringle).

In another record of 1991 (Stuart and Hickman), the contents of 394 caracal stomachs were examined indicating a bias towards domestic livestock. Thirty-seven percent of the stomachs were empty. Prey was found in 246 stomachs. Nearly 28% contained the remains of sheep and goats. A third contained the remains of larger ungulates. The remainder contain rodents, hares and hyraxes. Birds amounted to 8.1% of the contents of the stomachs. About 5% of the stomachs contained grass. Wild cat species do like to eat some vegetation.

A throat bite kills larger prey such as antelope, sheep and goats. A bite to the nape kills rats and mice. As for hares they caracals kill them with a bite to the back of the neck.

What do African lynx eat? Ans: Hyrax
Hyrax. Photo: Pinterest.

List of Caracal Prey

Depending on where the caracal lives its prey might be (in addition to prey stated above):

  • Dassie or rock hyrax
  • Mountain readbuck
  • Red rock rabbit
  • Scrub hare
  • Tolai hare
  • Rodents
  • Common duiker
  • Steenbok
  • Springbok
  • Spring hare
  • Bushuck
  • Blue duiker
  • Cape grysbuck
  • Rhebok
  • Klipspringer
  • Insects
  • Reptiles

I hope this answers the question: What do African lynx eat? Sources: Cat World (Morris), myself, Wild Cats of the World (Sunquist).

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