The small cats form an essential link in our ecosystem, but desperately require the same status as the larger cats.
Lion - Aside from occupying the top rung of the predation ladder, the lion also tops the glamour stakes. Sadly, it does have one formidable enemy in humankind, which has expelled it from most of the country so that it now remains almost exclusively in conservation areas.
Leopard - The beautiful leopard survives in a larger area, including much of the southern Cape and far north of the country, although numbers are small in some places.
Cheetah - The cheetah is the speed champ, capable of dashes of almost 100 kilometres an hour. Its population is comparatively small and confined mostly to the far north (including the Kruger National Park), the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, and reserves in KwaZulu-Natal and North West province.
African wild cat - This mainly nocturnal cat is sandy brown or grey with distinctive orange ears and black strips on the tail.
Black-footed cat - This cat’s body is marked with dark lines and spots with black bands on the legs and feet have black soles.
Caracal - The caracal is wine-red, grey or sand coloured with black marks above the eyes and long, tufted back ears.
Servals - These cats have the largest ears and longest legs of the cat family, relative to body size. They are tawny or pale gold.
Info & image sources: South Africa Info and karoocats.org
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