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Where is She Now?

October 30, 2020

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

The high road past Capetown, S.A.

Dr. Laurel Klein Serieys is familiar to most members of Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society. We help support her research on urban bobcats from 2008 to 2014 while she was working on her Ph.D. at UCLA on the deleterious effect of rodenticides on bobcat and mountain lion health. In return, Laurel gave short presentations about her work at our evening meetings, culminating in a full program after she received her Ph.D. It was rewarding to watch her grow in confidence and skill. Afterwards, she moved to South Africa to work on their local cats, particularly the Caracal. The following is from her website biography.

Her introduction to the world of wild cat research was a National Park Service internship in Los Angeles, California, USA in 2006. There she worked on an urban bobcat and mountain lion study. She carried the work into her PhD research at the University of California, Los Angeles graduate program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her Ph.D. research focused on how urbanization and pesticides drives genetic change and disease susceptibility in urban bobcats. Amongst the achievements she is most proud of– data from her bobcat work was used to enact new legislation across California to reduce consumer availability of rat poisons. The Environmental Protection Agency has requested the data as they review national policy on the use of those pesticides. Her collaborative work on the genetics of urban mountain lions has led to a movement to build a wildlife corridor across one of the busiest freeways in the U.S.

The Urban Caracal Project is a project of the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild) at the University of Cape Town. Key collaborators also include South Africa National Parks, Universities of California (Santa Cruz and Los Angeles), the City of Cape Town, and private landowners in Cape Town.

Urban Caracal Project CapeTalk Podcast interview: 15 min
Caracals are shy by nature and avoid contact with humans. But the Urban Caracal Project keeps track of the numbers and distribution of these beautiful wild animals and have tagged several of them. Joining us on the line is Dr Laurel Serieys from the Urban Caracal Project.

Caracals face wipe-out in Cape Town: 6:30 min
The CapeTalk midday talk with Mandy Weiner, interview with Dr. Laurel Serieys of the Urban Caracal Project.

Fun Caracal Facts. Due to similar distinctive ear tufts and short tail, the caracal is often called a ‘desert lynx’ though it is not closely related to the lynxes of the northern hemisphere.  Caracal comes from the Turkish name ‘Karakulak’, meaning ‘black ear’.  Egyptians portrayed caracals in wall paintings and in bronze as elegant hieratic figures sitting upright or as guardians of tombs; they also embalmed their bodies and placed them in tombs. In Persia and India, the caracal was trained to hunt birds as well as hares, foxes and small antelope.

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