African Golden Cat
The African Golden Cat is a medium sized cat and can grow to 90cm in body length and weigh up to 18kg. Although its name implies a golden coloured coat the golden cat is polymorphic - its base coat coloration varies extensively depending on its location -ranging from a golden/reddish brown to slate/silver grey.
Zoological name: Profelis aurata
Species: The African golden cat has long been regarded as closely related to the Asian or Temmincks golden cat, but a recent review of cat taxonomy by Wozencraft (1993) separates the two into different genera.
Two subspecies are described:
- F. (P.) a. aurata (Congo to Uganda )
- F. (P.) a. celidogaster (West Africa )
Each of the subspecies has two different characteristic coat patterns. P. a. celidogaster: Type 1 is spotted all over; Type 2 has indistinct spots on the back and neck, with a few large, clear flank spots. P. a. aurata: Type 1 has no pattern on the neck and back, but has numerous small spots on the lower flanks; Type 2 has virtually no pattern except on the belly.
Presence on the planet: African golden cats are found in central Africa up to 3,600 metres in high deciduous rain forest, alpine moorland, and along water courses extending into the drier more open areas. They occur from Senegal to the Ivory Coast and Gabon, and south to northern Angola, and through the north east Congo basin through Ruwenzori to Uganda and Kenya (the Mau forest). They seem to prefer moist forest with dense growth.
Habitat: The primary habitat of the golden cat appears to be the Tropical Rain Forest belt which traverses the African equator, however penetration into the adjoining tropical Dry Forests and Savannah scrub is also in evidence. About 12 years.
Reproduction and Offspring: Unknown. One instance of a tribesman finding a den found a mother with 1 kitten. Some reports of captive animals indicate a gestation approximately 78 days, with newborns weighing 6.5-8 ounces at birth. Eyes open around 6 days; they are weaned between 3-4 months, and reach sexual maturity around 23 months.
Diet: Prey is thought to be taken by stalking and rushing, mainly at ground level. Scat analysis in Zaire found 51% rodents and 20% ungulates, such as small deer. Their diet includes small to mid-sized mammals such as rodents, monkeys, duiker, hyrax and a variety of birds. They may also scavenge other predators kills. Sharing much of their range with the leopard Panthera pardus, the golden cat takes smaller prey than its much larger cousin.
IUCN status: The African golden cat has an IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) status of Insufficiently Known and due to its relatively restricted natural habitat must be considered at risk until more data is available as to its true population and distribution.
Life span: 15 years
Unveil the mystical wildness !
The Pygmy people in Cameroon use its tail as a talisman to protect them when they hunt. They use their skins in ceremonial robes. Hunting for their skins does not deplete their numbers greatly; their primary threat is deforestation. Hunting of this cat has been banned in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zaïre. Hunting is regulated in Gabon, Liberia, Togo, and there is no protection in Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.