Hikers were treated to a rare sight while walking along Camps Bay Drive over the weekend, when they came across a beautiful caracal.

Natalie Jaff Barnett described the experience as “the best gift ever”, while sharing pictures of the magnificent caracal spotting on Facebook.

“Walking up Camps Bay Drive with my husband, daughter and two dogs around midday, I was curious about the blue metal bench surrounded by planted frangipani trees. It is situated next to a large bush overlooking the beautiful Glen treetops and Camps Bay vista. So I stopped for a moment to see if it had a memorial plaque attached to it (it doesn’t) while the others continued past, and as I stepped back onto the track I noticed a large russet form on the other side of the bush. I called to my husband to hold the dogs while whipping out my phone to photograph whatever it was – I am always taking photos – and remember thinking it couldn’t be wild as it would have been frightened by the dogs,” says Barnett.

Instead of being shy the caracal was the exact opposite and stopped just a few metres from where Barnett was standing.

“However, the caracal continued moving cautiously round the back of the bush and then crouched down on a cracked concrete slab right in front of me, about 3m between us. It was very relaxed, did not flinch when I spoke or moved, and seemed to be surveying the mountain area behind me, across Camps Bay Drive. A few other people stopped to take photos, but the only time it reacted was on noticing the dogs, when it arched it’s back and hissed in warning before settling back down again,” adds Barnett.

Barnett was able to snap a few pictures of the small caracal framed by the greenery near the roadside.

“The whole encounter lasted about 15 minutes before it stood again, gave the road a last look and turned back down a path into the brush below. It looked to be confident in its surroundings, in beautiful condition, and at no time did it appear to be afraid. While it was the most thrilling experience, it is concerning that it seemed habituated to people and animals, which in addition to having to cross the busy road, would be a danger to its life. I am a huge wildlife fan and am immensely grateful for the unexpected and extraordinarily spiritual gift of meeting a caracal face to face,” says Barnett.

See Barnett’s pictures below:

6 interesting facts about caracals:

1. Caracals are sometimes referred to as the African lynx or desert lynx.

2. They are nocturnal, which means spotting them during the day is quite unusual.

3. Caracals usually have an average of three babies at a time, but they can have up to six.

4. Caracals are good mothers, they look after their young for as long as six months after birth.

5. Their scientific name is Felis Caracal.

6. Caracals can jump up to three metres in the air.

Pictures: Natalie Jaff Barnett

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