Earlier this week we reported on a caracal's acrobatic (and partly arboreal) capture of a smaller relative, an African wildcat. Today, we thought we might supply you with a little more caracal action: this time, posed against some canid competition.

The footage and images hail from Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve, where – as Wilderness Safaris recounted on its blog – guide Teko TK Tiso and his guests came upon a charged-up black-backed jackal this August. The group quickly spotted the object of the animal's interest: the carcass of a freshly killed steenbok.

No sooner had the jackal gotten its fangs on the dead antelope than its apparent owner – you guessed it, a caracal – materialised. The lynx-esque cat reclaimed its meal and dragged it off through the grass to the yowling protestations of the jackal (make sure your volume's up for this one):

The caracal's dibs on the steenbok ultimately didn't pan out, however: the jackal was soon joined by reinforcements, and the outnumbered cat was forced to yield its prize.

"What a sighting … unquestionably patience and teamwork here paid off!" Tiso wrote in his blog post.

The caracal reclaimed its prize – but its victory was fleeting. Image: Teko TK Tiso/Wilderness Safaris
A caracal is more than a match for a solo jackal, but this unlucky cat was defeated by teamwork. Image: Teko TK Tiso/Wilderness Safaris
Strength in numbers won the day. Image: Teko TK Tiso/Wilderness Safaris
Image: Teko TK Tiso/Wilderness Safaris

The encounter was the Kalahari version of a very familiar phenomenon that plays out in places from the Russian taiga to the North American desert to big-city streets just about everywhere: the old cats-versus-dogs game.

These classic rivals eat each other, for sure, and also kill each other to eliminate competitors. There are certainly the occasional heavyweight confrontations: lions snuffing out African wild dogs, wolves treeing pumas, tigers squaring off with dhole packs. But much of the direct and indirect competition transpires among canids and felids in the "mesopredator" guild: caracals vs jackals, coyotes vs bobcats or lynxes, foxes vs wildcats...

The jackals' use of teamwork to rob the caracal – a potential predator as well as competitor, and more than a match for a solo jackal – demonstrates one common way that dogs deal with (generally better armed) cats of similar or larger size. A single coyote may think twice about full-on tangling with a bobcat, for example:

Two or more "song dogs", however, typically have the upper hand:

Caracals – found from South Africa all the way to India – are formidable and multi-talented hunters: they commonly slay antelope larger than themselves, stalk raptors in urban jungles and swat songbirds straight out of the sky. Like many mid-sized felids, they've got a varied but hyper-carnivorous meal plan.

The black-backed jackal, though, has the legitimately versatile cat beat in the dietary-diversity department as a hardcore omnivore, like foxes and coyotes. Fruit and berries serve as important food for jackals in many areas, and they'll munch invertebrates as readily as red meat – and dead meat as readily as live meat.

Vulnerable as they are to caracals and other larger carnivores, black-backed jackals are also famously bold around them while scavenging: they'll feed alongside such intimidating dining companions as lions and hyenas.