A Caracal


Meeting a Caracal lynx today, I must say that I think they are the most adorable wild cats ever. With tufts of fur from their ears and inquisitive nature, to their short tail and dog like size, the Caracal is truly a charming creature.

The name Caracal is derived from a Turkish word “karakulak” meaning “black ear.” The Caracal was once trained for bird hunting in Iran and India. They were put into arenas containing a flock of pigeons, and wagers were made as to how many the cat would take down. This is the origination of the expression “to put a cat amongst the pigeons.” The Caracal is capable of leaping into the air and knocking down 10-12 birds at one time! (source:

You may learn more about the Caracal in the wild by watching this film of Tetha – a Caracal.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington D.C. and a visit was long overdue. The cats were calling for me. No really, literally the cats were calling as Luke, the Black maned lion was roaring when I arrived.

But it was the Caracal that stole my heart today. I had been down this narrow and short hidden path before but the cats were always hiding and asleep. Today was an unseasonably warm day today and the cats were out and about enjoying the false spring day.

Arriving at the double fenced pen, the Caracal was awake and walking about. He stopped and greeted me with a gentle smile and then continued on his path.

Due to safety concerns at the zoo, and mostly likely zoos throughout the nation, additional fencing has been added to the big cat pens. Posing challenges to the photographer, these fences can be faded with a few techniques.

First, using a smaller f/stop and making sure the focus point is set between the holes in the fence helps. Secondly, the animal needs to be further away from the fence and your camera should be set as close to the fence as possible. Making sure the lens is straight through the fence, and not an angle will help blur out the fence as well.

Bringing the images into Lightroom, I first apply a general preset that I’ve made to make some minor editing adjustments upon importing into the software. I then located the dehaze slider which is found Effects Panel and moved it to the right until the haziness of the fence disappears.

I’ve found that some animals have an orange tint in their fur, therefore I reduce saturation and vibrance just a touch, then go to the HSL panel and adjust the oranges until I reach the color that is more natural.


13 replies »

  1. What a great name for a big cat! I thought I had misread the title as the word caracol means snail in Spanish, so imagine my surprise when I saw the worl caracal! And you’ve got to love those ears. 👍

  2. Your photography is quite skillful, and what a beautiful being! Fencing comes with additional challenges as well, like for the animal contained by it.

    • Well, don’t know if you know the story from last week, but the female bobcat that lives across the aisle figured out a way to get out of the cage. She was free for about a week before they found her. DC was up in arms. It was funny. Thank you Shannon.

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