Verreaux’s eagle (Aquila verreauxii) is a large African bird of prey. It is also called the black eagle, especially in Southern Africa, leading to potential confusion with the Indian black eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis), which lives in Asia. Verreaux’s eagle lives in hilly and mountainous regions of southern and eastern Africa (extending marginally into Chad), and very locally in West Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the southern Middle East. It is one of the most specialized species of accipitrid in the world, with its distribution and life history revolving around its favorite prey species, the rock hyraxes. When hyrax populations decline, the species have been shown to survive with mixed success on other prey, such as small antelopes, gamebirds, hares, monkeys and other assorted vertebrates. Despite a high degree of specialization, Verreaux’s eagle has, from a conservation standpoint, been faring relatively well in historic times. One population of this species, in the Matobo Hills of Zimbabwe, is arguably the best studied eagle population in the world, having been subject to continuous detailed study since the late 1950s. Like all eagles, this species belongs to the taxonomic order Accipitriformes (formerly included in Falconiformes) and the family Accipitridae, which may be referred to colloquially as accipitrids or raptors.
The caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. The caracal 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 8–18 kg (18–40 lb). It was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1777. Eight subspecies are recognised.
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 3 m (9.8 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, the prey being killed by a bite to the throat or to the back of the neck. Breeding takes place throughout the year with both sexes becoming sexually mature by the time they are a year old. Gestation lasts between two and three months, resulting in a litter of one to six kittens. Juveniles leave their mothers 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.
Caracals have been tamed and used for hunting since the time of ancient Egypt.
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