The Caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium-sized felid. Caracals are still present throughout much of their original range of Africa and Asia but a significant reduction in populations has been recorded in areas where the species is patchily distributed. Information on population trends remains unknown, with Caracal currently categorised as Least Concern by the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Primary threats to the species are habitat loss due to modification for agriculture and human conflict resulting in persecution.
Caracal are classified as “suitable for live import (into Australia) with an import permit” (EPBC Act 1999) for “Eligible non-commercial purposes only” such as by zoological parks to support conservation purposes.
The benefit of importing Caracal to Tasmanian wildlife parks is for public education and conservation purposes.
A proposal to import the Caracal has been received and a risk assessment undertaken. The risk assessment determined that the Caracal is moderately dangerous to human, has a moderate establishment risk in Tasmania and an extreme consequence if establishment should occur.
By taking these factors into account, the assessment concluded that the risk posed by importing Caracal into Tasmania is ‘extreme’.
Following the initial risk assessment, the Department may consider permitting the importation of animals assessed as ‘extreme risk’ into the State provided stringent mitigation measures can be identified and applied. Such measures would be enforced through an Exhibition Licence.
Mitigation options to reduce the risk associated with importing Caracal include:
Reinforcing the Commonwealth position by limiting importation to registered wildlife parks or zoos to ensure the holding facility meets the stringent keeping standards Tasmania applies to all institutions.
Requiring any wildlife park or zoo to submit a Caracal Species Management Plan (including enclosure details) prior to import.
Requiring the wildlife exhibition facility to clearly demonstrate it has keepers proficient in the keeping of that particular species.
Limiting the import to a single sex of the species.