Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Little is known about the biology of the African golden cat, which has a fierce reputation with local people (4). It is a terrestrial hunter that has been seen hunting in the daytime, but based on the activity of its preferred prey it is more likely to be crepuscular and nocturnal (4). It feeds mostly on small mammals, such as rats and hyraxes, and birds which are plucked before eating (4). It also takes monkeys, and its long, heavy jaw enables it to tackle powerfully built duikers (2). The African golden cat has also been known to raid chicken coops and kill domestic goats and sheep (4). The African golden cat is solitary, and like other felids, it is likely to maintain territories, marked with scent and faeces (4). Captive animals have been recorded giving birth to litters of two kittens, after a gestation of 75 days (4), although in the wild one kitten per litter seems to be more common (5). The new born kittens are well hidden in a fallen, hollow log or a similar concealed den (2) (4). Their eyes open after six days, and they then develop quickly; walking at 13 days and eating whole animals shortly after 40 days (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

The African golden cat is little known by science, but is the subject of much tribal superstition in many parts of Africa (4). Pygmy tribes in Cameroon carry the tail of the African golden cat when hunting elephants to ensure good fortune, and the skin is used in some areas during circumcision rituals (4). The African golden cat is about twice the size of a large domestic cat and is robustly built with a short tail. Despite its name, the fur varies from marmalade orange-red to sepia-grey and may be spotted all over, unspotted or somewhere in between (4). Captive specimens have been known to change from grey to red and vice versa and this may also occur in the wild (2). The throat, chest and undersides are white or whitish, and the belly is marked with bold dark spots or blotches (4). Its round face has a heavy muzzle, and the small, blunt, un-tufted ears have black backs (4). Males are larger and heavier than females (4). The African golden cat is also known as the 'leopard's brother' as local people believe it follows the leopard (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Range Description

The African Golden Cat is endemic to the forests of Equatorial Africa. There are no confirmed records from The Gambia and Guinea Bissau, nor from Togo and Benin (Ray and Butynski 2013), which suggests a separation between Western and Central African populations (Nowell and Jackson 1996).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The geographic range of African golden cats, Profelis aurata, spans across equatorial Africa. They inhabit areas ranging from the Savanna woodlands of western Sierra Leone to the primary forested regions of central Africa and as far East as Kenya. The Congo River provides a natural geographic barrier dividing the two subspecies.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

  • 2002. "Cat Survival Trust" (On-line). Accessed November 09, 2010 at http://www.catsurvivaltrust.org/.
  • Alderton, D. 1993. Wild Cats of the World. New York: Facts on File.
  • Hall-Martin, A., P. Bosman. 1998. Cats of Africa. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 1996. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: Wild Cats. Switzerland: IUCN.
  • Ray, J., M. Sunquist. 2001. Trophic Relations in a Community of African Rainforest Carnivores. Oecologia, 127: 395-408. Accessed October 14, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/4222944.
  • Sleeper, B. 1995. Wild Cats of the World. New York: Crown Publisher.
  • Sogbohossou, E., C. Breitenmoser-Wursten, P. Henschel. 2010. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed October 12, 2010 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/18306/0.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

Occurs in the tropical rainforest region of equatorial Africa; from Senegal, Sierra Leone and Liberia, west through the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, south to northern Angola, and east to Uganda and Kenya (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

African golden cats are robust animals with short, stocky limbs adept for arboreal hunting. They have a semi-complete postorbital closure and small anterior premolars. African golden cats range from 3 to 18 kg in weight. Males often weigh between 11 and 14 kg. Adults range from 61 to 102 cm in length excluding the tail. Males tend to be longer, averaging 74 cm, whereas females average around 71 cm in length. Their tail ranges from 16 to 46 cm in length, with males averaging 31 cm and females 30 cm. The height of African golden cats from their shoulder to the ground ranges between 40 and 50 cm.

The coloration of African golden cats can vary dramatically, and their coats range from bright orange to reddish-brown. Some cats grayish in color have also been observed. Some individuals have spots on their coat. There are also some melanistic and all-black individuals. The outsides of their ears are generally dark in color. White spots are common above the eyes. The neck and throat can be lighter in color and are sometimes white. The tail has a dark tip and a white line on the dorsal side usually surrounded by dark spots. The coat of one individual in the London Zoo changed from brownish red to gray in 4 months, indicating that the coat of African golden cats may be variable throughout their lifetime.

There are two subspecies of African golden cats, and they are slightly different in appearance. Members of the subspeices Profelis aurata celidogaster are found in the Guinean forested zone and are either entirely spotted, or spotted on the neck with large spots on the flanks. Members of the subspeices Profelis aurata aurata are found east of the Congo River and spotted on the belly or spotted on the lower flanks. In a 'hybrid' zone between Cameroon and Gabon, both spotted and unspotted individuals can be found.

Range mass: 3.5 to 18 kg.

Range length: 61 to 101.5 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
While the Neotropical and Indomalayan regions have several sympatric forest-dependent felid species, this is Africa's only one. The African Golden Cat occurs mainly in primary moist equatorial forest, although on the periphery of its range it penetrates savanna regions along riverine forest. It also occurs in montane forest and alpine moorland in the east of its range (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Ray and Butynski 2013).

Two studies of scats - from the Ituri forest of the Congo (Hart et al. 1996) and the Dzanga-Sangha forest of the Central African republic (Ray and Sunquist 2001) - found similar results. Rodents and squirrels were the main prey item (70 % and 62% respectively), followed by small and medium-size duikers (antelopes) (25% and 33% respectively. Primates made up 5% of the prey items in both studies, and there have been several observations by primate researchers of African Golden Cats hunting arboreal primates (Ray and Butynski 2013, Bahaa-el-din et al. in review). The same general diet items were reported by Kingdon (1977) from Uganda's Bwindi National Park. Birds are also taken, and pangolin remains were frequently found in scats from the Ivory Coast's Tai National Park (D. Jenny pers. comm. in Nowell and Jackson 1996).

African Golden Cats have turned up in the diet of leopards, the only other felid to occur in African moist forest. African Golden Cat remains were found in five of 196 Leopard Panthera pardus scats from Gabon's Lop National Park (Henschel et al. 2005); a single carcass killed by a Leopard was found in the Ituri (Hart et al. 1996).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Although Africa golden cats can be found in a variety of habitats, they are predominantly found in densely forested regions. They adjust well to areas affected by logging because of the region's dense secondary undergrowth, which is advantageous for camouflaged hunting. Fringe environments, such as waterways leading into savannah woodlands, are sometimes preferred habitat zones due to their dense populations of rodents. Members of this species have been recorded at elevations up to 3600 m in Uganda and the Aberdare Mountains of Kenya. Although evidence is inconclusive, African golden cats may also inhabit wet montane forest and lowland humid forests.

Range elevation: 3600 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The African golden cat primarily inhabits lowland, moist forest, but is also occurs in recently logged forest along rivers, and in mountainous areas in bamboo forest and alpine moorland (2) (4)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Trophic Strategy

African golden cats are carnivorous and prey on mid-sized mammals such as tree hyraxes, red duikers, smaller forest antelopes, monkeys, birds and in some cases fish. Based on scat, small species of rodents weighting less than 300 g are typically hunted. They have been recorded hunting species of monkeys, however it is speculated that they may only prey on fallen or injured monkeys. The short, stocky limbs of African golden cats offer an advantage for arboreal hunting, although this has been observed on few occasions. African golden cats often remove the feathers from bird prey, and the amount of 'plucking' is comparable to that of African lynx.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; fish; carrion

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Piscivore , Scavenger )

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

African golden cats are important predators in the forest, preying on a variety of animals. They also serve as prey to leopards.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

African golden cats are preyed upon by leopards, and they tend to avoid inhabiting areas with populations of leopards.

Known Predators:

  • leopards Panthera pardus

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Known prey organisms

Profelis aurata preys on:
Miopithecus talapoin

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© SPIRE project

Source: SPIRE

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Behavior

African golden cats have been observed in captivity demonstrating threatening and aggressive behaviors. When threatened they keep their back slightly arched, while the hair on the back and tail are perpendicular. The head is kept lower than the body and is usually angled to one side. The tail curves to form a hook shape; it can whip sharply then return to original form. When African golden cats attack, they travel at a robust pace. They do not demonstrate the agitated circling behavior of Caracal, Puma, or Neofelis.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life Expectancy

On average African golden cats live around 15 years in captivity. Their lifespan in the wild is currently unknown.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
21 (high) years.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 21 years (captivity) Observations: One wild born specimen lived could have been 21 years old when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

Source: AnAge

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Reproduction

The mating systems of African golden cats are currently unknown. There has only been a single recorded viewing of two wild individuals traveling together. While this evidence may suggest monogamous pair bonding, more evidence is required to fully understand their mating systems.

All current information regarding the breeding of African golden cats is from captive animals. Litters vary from 1 to 2 cubs, and occasionally include 3 cubs. Gestation lasts 75 to 78 days. At birth, cubs weigh 195 to 235 g. They are born blind, and they open their eyes in about 1 week. At around 2 weeks in age, they display curiosity of their surroundings and are able to climb. Weaning begins around 6 weeks of age. Males reach sexual maturity at 6 months of age, while females reach sexual maturity at 11 months.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.

Average number of offspring: 1 to 2.

Range gestation period: 75 to 78 days.

Average weaning age: 6 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 11 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 months.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average birth mass: 248.33 g.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Little information is known regarding parental investment of African golden cats, although mothers provide care to their young for a period of time. Cubs likely do not travel until sexual maturity. In captivity, female African golden cats were observed moving 16-day-old cubs to a brighter spot near the glass, although cubs were able to move in and out of the nest of their own volition. After this move, the cats sunbathed during the day and returned to the nest at night. On one occasion, a young African golden cat was found in a hollowed out log that had fallen. This could indicate that kittens hide in holes located in trees in order to avoid predators.

Parental Investment: pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • 2002. "Cat Survival Trust" (On-line). Accessed November 09, 2010 at http://www.catsurvivaltrust.org/.
  • Alderton, D. 1993. Wild Cats of the World. New York: Facts on File.
  • Hall-Martin, A., P. Bosman. 1998. Cats of Africa. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Leyhausen, P. 1979. Cat Behavior: The Predatory and Social Behavior of Domestic and Wild Cats. New York: Garland Publishing.
  • Tonkin, B., E. Kohler. 1978. Breeding of the African golden cat, Felis (Profelis) aurata, in captivity. International Zoo Yearbook, 18: 145-150.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2c+3c

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
Bahaa-el-din, L., Mills, D., Hunter, L. & Henschel, P.

Reviewer/s
Nowell, K., Hoffmann, M., Breitenmoser-Wrsten, C., Lanz, T. & Breitenmoser, U.

Contributor/s
Sogbohossou, E.

Justification
The African Golden Cat is a forest-dependent species restricted to equatorial Africa, where high deforestation and bushmeat hunting levels are causing substantial reductions in their area of occupancy (AOO). Data on the extent of African Golden Cat AOO loss is unavailable due to a lack of population monitoring. We can infer, however, an approximate AOO loss using data on deforestation and bushmeat hunting, as well as evidence of the effects of these on African Golden Cats.

We infer that the cumulative loss of AOO from deforestation and bushmeat hunting along expanding road networks amounts to >30% in the past 15 years (three Golden Cat generations; Pacifici et al. 2013) and qualifies the African Golden Cat for Vulnerable status under criterion A2c. Additionally, the exacerbation of these threats due to population growth, projected mining activities and forest clearance for oil palm plantations will likely cause further reduction in AOO for the Golden Cat and we therefore predict that the AOO will be reduced by at least a further 30% in the next 15 years, lending additional support to the species listing as Vulnerable under criterion A3c.


History
  • 2008
    Near Threatened (NT)
  • 2002
    Vulnerable (VU)
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • 1994
    Insufficiently Known (K)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

African golden cats are classified as near threatened by the IUCN. Recent reports indicate that populations of African golden cats are decreasing due in large part to major deforestation. Hunting also plays a minor role in the depletion of the species. Hunting has been restricted in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population

The African Golden Cat is infrequently observed in the wild, and generally considered rare. In areas of heavy human hunting, Golden Cats were not recorded(e.g. Dibouka village in central Gabon (Henschel 2008) and Korup National Park (NP) in southwest Cameroon (TEAM,http://www.teamnetwork.org)). In an area of putatively suitable habitat in Equatorial Guinea, just 16% of the area was found to be occupied by African Golden Cats due to human disturbance (Martinez Marti 2011).


Population Trend
Decreasing
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Major Threats
At least 6.5% of forest (projected from FAO 2011) in Golden Cat range countries has been lost in the past three Golden Cat generations (15 years, Pacifici et al. 2013). This translates into, at minimum, an equivalent loss of range for the Golden Cat as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation. Prior to the year 2000, West and East Africa had already suffered an 88-92% reduction in rainforest, while Central Africas rainforest extent was reduced by 40% (Laurance et al. 2006).

Intensive hunting for bushmeat (>1 million tonnes per year harvested in the Congo Basin, the species main stronghold; Wilkie and Carpenter 1999), leading to empty forest syndrome (Sayer 1992), likely accounts for greater reduction in area of occupancy (AOO) for the Golden Cat than deforestation, but is more difficult to quantify. Within 1015 km of roads and settlements, large and medium bodied mammals experience sharp declines in population (Laurance et al. 2006, Blake et al. 2007, Henschel 2008). In excess of 64% of forest habitat in the Congo Basin lies within 10 km of a road and is also predicted to be affected by higher hunting pressure (Blake et al. 2007). Development of roads increased rapidly in the past 15 years (e.g. 35% increase in the Democratic Republic of Congo and >300% increase in northern Republic of Congo since the year 2000; Laporte et al. 2007). Golden Cat populations within these highly impacted areas are likely to be severely reduced or extirpated through direct mortality and loss of prey.

Golden cats are often not a primary target species, but are frequently killed by wire-snares (four individuals in two months in 20 km2 in Gabon; Bahaa-el-din pers. obs.; and 13 individuals in three months in Lobk, Cameroon; Ray et al. 2005), probably owing to similarities in body size and trail use to target species such as duikers. In an area of moderate bushmeat hunting, Golden Cats were recorded at less than a quarter of the population densities that they are found at in pristine areas (Bahaa-el-din et al. in prep). Where more intense hunting occurs, such as in village hunting areas (e.g. Dibouka village in central Gabon; Henschel 2008) and national parks (e.g. Korup NP in southwest Cameroon; TEAM, http://www.teamnetwork.org), camera trap and bushmeat studies did not record the species despite the presence of suitable habitat contiguous with the main forest of the Congo Basin.

Recent landscape-scale Golden Cat surveys in mainland Equatorial Guinea (Rio Muni) emphasize that prior range estimates based on forest cover may have significantly overestimated remaining golden cat range. An estimated 78% of Rio Muni consists of tropical dense forest and therefore putatively suitable habitat, but Golden Cats were found to occupy just 16% of the area (Martinez Marti 2011). Its presence in the area was correlated with rugged, inaccessible terrain away from human disturbance (Martinez Marti 2011). Golden Cats were reported by locals to be easy to hunt and locally extirpated long before other medium-to-large mammal species (Martinez Marti 2011).

These threats will intensify, as the human population within the species range shows the fastest growth rates in the world (+2.6-2.8% per annum for West, Central and East Africa; FAO 2011). The population in main Golden Cat range countries, estimated at nearly a quarter of a billion for 2013, is projected to almost quadruple by 2100 (UN 2012, http://esa.un.org/wpp/).

The current stampede of foreign investment in mining activities and associated infrastructure development in Africa is of immediate concern (Edwards et al. 2014). In Central Africa, 42% of ecologically important areas would be directly impacted if there were complete development of mineral resources in the region (assuming that ecological impacts extend within 10 km of mines; Edwards et al. 2014). Chinas mineral investment alone has quadrupled in 10 years (Zhang 2011). In addition, it is predicted that the conversion of forests to oil palm plantations, which has caused extensive loss of forest habitat and biodiversity in Southeast Asia, will have similar impacts in Africa (particularly in West and Central Africa) as it expands over the coming years (Wich et al. 2014). The realisation of these investments includes habitat destruction and degradation, relocation of human populations into previously remote areas and massive-scale infrastructural development including road and rail which in turn lead to the aforementioned surge in bushmeat hunting in these areas (Edwards et al. 2014).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The lack of biological and population information means it is hard to determine the status of the African golden cat in the wild (5). However, its habitat and prey populations are known to be contracting (2). The moist forests of West Africa have been heavily degraded and the remaining areas are patchily distributed (5). 'Savannization', a process in which forest is turned into savanna as a result of slash-and-burn agriculture and logging, has probably led to population declines and fragmentation (5). There is some hunting of the African golden cat, as cat skins regularly appear in markets (2), and hunting of small antelopes decreases the cats' prey (5). African golden cats are also killed while raiding poultry sheds or going after domestic sheep and goats (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Included on CITES Appendix II. Hunting of this species is prohibited in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, Cte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo, with hunting regulations in place in Gabon, Liberia and Togo (Nowell and Jackson 1996).

Key protected areas for the species include: Gola F.R. (Sierra Leone), Mount Nimba Strict N.R. (Liberia, Cte d'Ivoire, Guinea), Sapo N.P. (Liberia), Ta and Como National Parks (Cte d'Ivoire), Gashaka Gumti N.P. (Nigeria), Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon), Lop N.P. and Ivindo N.P. (Gabon), Odzala and Nouabale-Ndoki National Parks (Congo Republic) and Dzangha-Ndoki National Parks (CAR), Virunga N.P. (DR Congo), Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks (Uganda) (Butynski and Ray 2013).

There is a need for further survey work to acquire reliable population density estimates in various forest types, including disturbed habitats, in order to help better determine the population status across the range of the species.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

The African golden cat is listed on Appendix II of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that international trade should be carefully monitored to ensure it is compatible with the species' survival (3). Hunting of the golden cat is prohibited in 12 of its range countries, and hunting regulations exist in Gabon, Liberia and Togo (5). Also, despite the forest loss and prey depletion occurring in much of its range, the African golden cat is reported to exist in secondary forest and survive on small rodents, and thus may be in less danger of extinction as some other small cats (4). In addition, large areas of relatively pristine forest still exist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo and Gabon (5). Hopefully action can be taken before this beautiful cat and the remarkably diverse forests it inhabits decline further.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

African golden cats have been cited as a 'poultry' pest, feeding on domestic animals such as chickens, goats and sheep.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Although hunting is prohibited in several countries, they are hunted for their meat and pelts. Pelts may be used for circumcision practices or to wrap valuables. Some pygmy cultures place value on the tail of African golden cats, which is used to indicate a successful hunter.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

African golden cat

The African golden cat (Profelis aurata) is a medium-sized wild cat distributed over the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It is about 80 cm (31 in) long, and has a tail of about 30 cm (12 in) in length. It is a close relative of both the caracal and the serval,[3] but current classification places it as the only member of the genus Profelis.[1]

Description[edit]

The African golden cat has variable fur color, typically ranging from cinnamon or reddish-brown to grey, although melanistic forms also exist. It can be either spotted, with the spotting ranging from faded tan to heavy black in color, or not spotted at all. Its undersides and areas around the eyes, cheeks, chin, and throat are generally lighter in color and may be almost white. Its tail is darker on the top and may be heavily banded, lightly banded, or plain, although it always ends in a black tip. Those cats in the western parts of its range tend to have heavier spotting than those in the eastern areas. Two color morphs, a red and a grey phase, were once thought to indicate separate species, rather than variations of the same species.[4]

The African golden cats is about twice the size of a domestic cat. Its rounded head is very small in relation to its body size. It is a heavily built cat, with stocky, long legs, a relatively short tail, and large paws. Body length usually varies within the range 61 to 101 cm (24 to 40 in). Tail length ranges from 16 to 46 cm (6.3 to 18.1 in), and shoulder height is about 38 to 55 cm (15 to 22 in). The cat weighs around 5.5 to 16 kg (12 to 35 lb), with males being larger than females.[5][6]

African golden cat pelts

Overall, the African golden cat resembles the caracal, but has shorter untufted ears, a longer tail, and a shorter, more rounded face. They have brown eyes and small, rounded ears.[7] Despite the wide variation in coat color, pelts of African golden cats can be identified by the presence of a distinctive whorled ridge of fur in front of the shoulders, where the hairs change direction.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The African golden cat inhabits tropical forests from sea level to 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It prefers dense, moist forest with heavy undergrowth, and is often found close to rivers, but it may also be found in cloud forest, bamboo forests, and high moorland habitats. The cat is found from Senegal in the west to Kenya in the east, and ranges as far north as the Central African Republic and as far south as northern Angola.[5]

Behavior and diet[edit]

Due to its extremely reclusive habits, little is known about the behavior of African golden cats. They are solitary animals, and are normally crepuscular or nocturnal, although they have also been observed hunting during the day, depending on the availability of local prey.[5]

The African golden cat is able to climb, but hunts primarily on the ground. It mainly feeds on rodents, but also includes birds, small monkeys,[8] duikers, giant forest hog piglets, and small antelope in its diet. These cats have also been known to take domestic poultry and livestock.[4][5]

Reproduction[edit]

Knowledge of the African golden cat's reproductive habits is based on captive specimens. They breed readily in captivity.[citation needed] The mother gives birth to one or two kittens after a gestation period of around 75 days. The kittens weigh 180 to 235 g (6.3 to 8.3 oz), but grow and develop rapidly in comparison with other small cat species. One individual was reported to be scaling a 40-cm wall within 16 days of birth, reflecting a high degree of physical agility from an early age. The kittens' eyes open within a week of birth, and they are weaned at 6–8 weeks. Females reach sexual maturity at 11 months of age, but the males do not do so until 18 months.[5]

These cats live up to 12 years in captivity, but their lifespan in the wild is unknown.[5]

Subspecies[edit]

Skull

The subspecies of African golden cat are:

  • P. a. aurata - from Congo to Uganda
  • P. a. celidogaster - throughout Western Africa

Each of the subspecies has two distinct spotting patterns. P. a. aurata can either have spots just on its lower body, or no spots at all except a few indistinct spots on the belly. P. a. celidogaster can either be spotted all over, or have a few spots on the back and neck with a few large spots on the sides of the body.[4]

Some sources list P. a. cottoni instead of P. a. celidogaster. In this arrangement, all populations are included in the nominate, with the supposed second subspecies restricted to the rainforests of easternmost Congo and Uganda, but this is based on a 1939 study and lumps allopatric populations in the nominate, while treating parapatric ones as distinct, which is not very reasonable biogeographically. Thus, subsequent authors usually considered the supposed P. a. cottoni a semimelanistic color morph, and recognized an allopatric division between the subspecies as listed above. This confusion is mainly due to the red/grey polymorphism mentioned above, as well as uncertainties about the type localities. In any case, individuals resembling P. a. "cottoni" have been found all over the species' range in particularly humid habitats, and individuals in captivity have even been observed to change coat color between the "typical" (red) morph and dusky grey as they shed their fur.

The African golden cat is superficially similar to the Asian golden cat, However, genetic analysis has determined they are not closely related.[9] Its closest relatives are the caracal (Caracal caracal) and serval (Leptailurus serval), while the Asian golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii) belongs to the genus Pardofelis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 544. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Breitenmoser, C., Henschel, P. & Sogbohossou, E. (2008). Profelis aurata. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 15 September 2011. Database entry includes justification for why this species is near threatened
  3. ^ Johnson et al. The Late Miocene Radiation of Modern Felidae: A Genetic Assessment. pp. 73–77, Science Vol. 311. 
  4. ^ a b c Postanowicz, Rebecca. "African Golden Cat (Profelis aurata)". Archived from the original on January 4, 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Sunquist, Mel; Sunquist, Fiona (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 246–251. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  6. ^ Burnie D and Wilson DE (Eds.), Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. DK Adult (2005), ISBN 0789477645
  7. ^ Macdonald, edited by David W. (2009). David W. Macdonald, ed. The Princeton encyclopedia of mammals (Pbk. ed. ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 655. ISBN 978-0-691-14069-8. 
  8. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/african-golden-cat-attacks-monkeys-rare-camera-trap-132526785.html
  9. ^ Macdonald, D and Loveridge, A. (2010). The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923444-8
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!