Identification of the putative urinary intraspecific recognition of pheromone of the caracal Caracal caracal
Friday, 31st March 2017
Sheep husbandry makes a considerable contribution to the economy of South Africa. However, it has been pressure during the last few decades due to the rapidly growing numbers of predators such as the caracal, Caracal caracal, and the red jackal, Canis mesomelas. Currently, sheep farming is hardly viable in the arid southern parts of the country. When experimenting with various methods of controlling caracal numbers, sheep farmers found that this problem animal could be effectively lured into traps using the urine of another male or female caracal. The main disadvantage here is that a sheep farmer could incur serious stock losses before he is able to obtain a starting sample of urine from another source (e.g., another farmer).
It was hypothesised that caracal urine contains a volatile organic substance, or substances (VOCs), that are involved in the semiochemical communication between members of this species. The objective of this investigation was to identify these putative attractants in the urine, for the subsequent formulation of a caracal lure composed of synthetic analogues of the natural VOCs. As sheep farmers reported that male and female urine were equally effective attractants, it was considered unlikely that the attracting agent could be a sex pheromone; rather, it could have an intraspecific signalling function.