Many African travelers may be more familiar with lions and Serval cats but there’s another elegant predator that many are not even aware that it exists-the the African golden cat. This cat-like predator is seldom seen and very difficult to spot and one reason is its solitary habits, making it rarely photographed. However, scientists have recently taken footage of this hunter in Uganda while it was attempting to take down a Red Colobus monkey.
The African golden cat is medium-sized African specie with a wide variety of colors ranging from reddish-brown to gray to black melanistic individuals. African golden cats prefer the rain forest regions, but also range into secondary forest regions and have been known to adapt well to logged areas with dense undergrowth. The African golden cat, which can only be found in the forests of West and Central Africa and weighs between 5 and 16 kilograms, is elusive. Only a small number of western scientists were able to observe it in the wild. Records of the animal are also mostly of dead animals that were killed by local hunters and those that were taken by remote camera traps.
“The clip is possibly the first video to be taken of the African golden cat hunting in the daylight,” said the Conservation group Panthera which shot and released the video. Scientists depend on motion-activated night cameras and still photography to understand how this spotted predator follows the prey. A trap camera was set originally by a team of scientists to capture footage of primates in Kibale forest National Park, one of the most popular Uganda safari destinations for primates tracking and was lucky enough to capture the sleek and spotted predator hunting red Colobus monkeys while these primates were feeding on dead wood.
It was another lucky day in Kalinzu Forest Reserve in Uganda when a video of a golden cat slumbering in a tree was also taken, which shows monkeys that surround and harass the cat until it descends from the top. Watching a golden cat in full ambush of large monkeys in this video provides hunting details we could previously only piece together from brief sightings. It was not until 2002 when the first photo of the living African golden cat in the wild was taken by a camera trap that was set by Panthera Lion Program Survey Coordinator Philip Henschel. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the cat, whose size is comparable to bobcats twice the size of the domestic cat, as a threatened species. The forest-dwelling hunters are threatened because of bushmeat hunting and loss of habitat because of deforestation. The African golden cat’s status in the wild is not entirely known due to insufficient study.