Laurel Klein Serieys has a soft spot for pointy-eared cats. After completing her PhD studying bobcat ecology in Los Angeles, California, she set off for Cape Town in South Africa to study a different kind of urban wild cat: the caracal.
As part of her Urban Caracal Project, Serieys set up a small mirror in the wilderness, ready for a cat to wander by, and deployed a camera trap nearby to record what happened. Eventually a female caracal did wander by – and was so startled by her reflection that she ran away. In less than a second, the cat became a furry, blurry rocket.
On the project's Facebook page, Serieys explains that she wanted to see whether mirrors could be a useful, humane way to lure a caracal into a trap, where the cats are given a quick assessment and, for some of them, a small radio collar, before being released. "There is video footage of two leopards in a tropical forest reacting very differently to a mirror – investigating for a long period of time with great curiosity, which is how we got the idea… [But] based on this footage, it won't be a technique we will employ," she says.
The same cat was seen nearby later the same day, so Serieys thinks that the mirror wasn't scary enough to drive her away permanently.
Top header image: jbdodane/Flickr