Conservationists in Uganda have captured video footage of the African golden cat, the least-studied of the continent’s wild cats.
Photographs of African golden cat kittens were published for the first time recently, and in this latest video the cat can be seen tracking and attacking some red colobus monkeys, later backing down and retreating. The footage was filmed in Kibale national park in the south of the country, writes Adam Vaughan of The Guardian.
Elusive feline caught by camera trap
Caracal aurata is rarely seen, and can only be found in central and west Africa. It is around twice the size of a domestic cat, and much stronger. The little that we do know about the species comes from the use of camera traps, one of which was responsible for the first photographs of a living African golden cat in 2002.
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Researchers have also captured another video, which shows a monkey harassing a sleeping cat until it is forced to descend from its treetop perch in the Kalinzu forest reserve, Uganda. Laila Bahaa-el-din is a researcher for Panthera, an NGO which works with endangered cats, and she is understandably excited by the footage. “It really does give us insight. We really never had any footage like that before. The monkey must weigh more than the cat itself.”
African golden cat species at risk
Despite spending four years studying the African golden cat, Bahaa-el-din has only seen one cat in person because of the species’ incredible ability to hide. The elusive nature of the beast means that scientists do not properly understand its situation, but one study has already claimed that it is at risk. “The status of the African golden cat in the wild has never been rigorously assessed, but the species is increasingly threatened by habitat degradation, loss and fragmentation, and by unsustainable hunting,” the study claimed.
“We’ve just been assessing it for the Red List [of endangered species] and the evidence is pretty dire. Bushmeat hunting is pretty ubiquitous across their range, and golden cats are really prone to getting caught in snares,” said Bahaa-el-din.