African golden cat

The African golden cat (Caracal aurata) is a wild cat endemic to the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It is threatened due to deforestation and bushmeat hunting and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.[1]

It is a close relative of both the caracal and the serval.[3] Previously, it was placed in the genus Profelis.[2]

Its body size ranges from 61 to 101 cm (24 to 40 in) with a 16 to 46 cm (6.3 to 18.1 in) long tail.[4]

African golden cat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Caracal
C. aurata
Binomial name
Caracal aurata
(Temminck, 1827)
  • C. a. aurata
  • C. a. celidogaster
AfricanGoldenCat distribution
Distribution of the African golden cat
  • Profelis aurata[2]


Felis aurata was the scientific name used by Coenraad Jacob Temminck who described a reddish-brown coloured cat skin in 1827 that he had bought from a merchant in London.[5] Temminck also described a grey coloured skin of a cat with chocolate brown spots that had lived in the menagerie in London. He named it Felis celidogaster.[6] Felis neglecta proposed by John Edward Gray in 1838 was a brownish grey cat skin from Sierra Leone.[7] Felis rutilus proposed by George Robert Waterhouse in 1842 was a reddish cat skin from Sierra Leone.[8] Felis chrysothrix cottoni proposed by Richard Lydekker in 1906 was a dark grey cat skin from the Ituri Rainforest.[9] A black cat skin from eastern Congo was proposed as Felis maka in 1942.[10]

In 1858, Nikolai Severtzov proposed the generic names Profelis with F. celidogaster as type species, and Chrysailurus with F. neglecta as type species.[11] In 1917, Reginald Innes Pocock subordinated both the African golden cat and the Asian golden cat to Profelis.[12] This classification was followed by several subsequent authors.[13][10][14][15][2]

Phylogenetic analysis of cat samples showed that the African golden cat is closely related with the caracal (Caracal caracal). These two species, together with the serval (Leptailurus serval), form the Caracal lineage, one of the eight lineages of Felidae. This lineage evolved nearly 8.5 million years ago.[16][3] Because of this close relationship, the African golden cat has been placed into the genus Caracal.[17]

Two African golden cat subspecies are recognised as valid since 2017:[18]

  • C. a. aurata (Temminck, 1827) − east of the Congo River
  • C. a. celidogaster (Temminck, 1827) − west of the Cross River


The following cladogram shows the phylogenetic relationships of the African golden cat:[3][17]


Marbled cat (P. marmorata)


Bay cat (Catopuma badia)

Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii)


Serval (L. serval)


Caracal (Caracal caracal)

African golden cat (Caracal aurata)











Profelis aurata 02 MWNH 254
Skull of an African golden cat in the Museum Wiesbaden

The African golden cat has a fur colour ranging from chestnut or reddish-brown, greyish brown to dark slaty. Some are spotted, with the spots ranging from faded tan to black in colour. In others the spotting pattern is limited to the belly and inner legs. Its undersides and areas around the eyes, cheeks, chin, and throat are lighter in colour to almost white. Its tail is darker on the top and either heavily banded, lightly banded or plain, ending in a black tip. Cats in the western parts of its range tend to have heavier spotting than those in the eastern region. Two color morphs, a red and a grey phase, were once thought to indicate separate species, rather than colour variations of the same species.[19] Grey skins have hairs that are not pigmented in their middle zones, whereas hair of red skins is pigmented intensively red. Hair of melanistic skins is entirely black.[10]

Skins 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. It 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 of 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.[4]

Overall, the African golden cat resembles the caracal, but has shorter untufted ears, a longer tail, and a shorter, more rounded face. It has small, rounded ears. Its eye colour ranges from pale blue to brown.[20]

Distribution and habitat

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.[4]

In Uganda's Kibale National Park, an African golden cat was recorded in an old growth forest patch in 2008.[21] In Gabon’s Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, it was recorded in forested areas during surveys in 2012.[22]

Ecology and behavior

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.[4]

African golden cats are able to climb, but hunt primarily on the ground. They mainly feed on tree hyrax, rodents, but also hunt birds, small monkeys, duikers, young of giant forest hog, and small antelope. They have also been known to take domestic poultry and livestock.[4][19]


Knowledge of the African golden cat's reproductive habits is based on captive individuals. The female 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). Their eyes open within a week of birth, and they are weaned at 6–8 weeks. They 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. Females reach sexual maturity at 11 months of age, and males at around 18 months. In captivity, they live up to 12 years. Their lifespan in the wild is unknown.[4]


Profelis aurata (African golden cat) fur skins
African golden cat pelts

The African golden cat is threatened by extensive deforestation of tropical rainforests, their conversion to oil palm plantations coupled with mining activities and road building, thus destroying its essential habitat. It is also threatened by bushmeat hunting, particularly in the Congo Basin.[1]


The African golden cat is listed in CITES Appendix II.[1] Hunting African golden cats is prohibited in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. In Gabon, Liberia and Togo, hunting regulations are in place.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d Bahaa-el-din, L.; Mills, D.; Hunter, L. & Henschel, P. (2015). "Caracal aurata". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: e.T18306A50663128. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T18306A50663128.en.
  2. ^ a b c Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Genus Profelis". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 544. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. ^ a b c Johnson, W. E.; Eizirik, E.; Pecon-Slattery, J.; Murphy, W. J.; Antunes, A.; Teeling, E.; O’Brien, S. J. (2006). "The Late Miocene Radiation of Modern Felidae: A Genetic Assessment". Science. 311: 73–77. doi:10.1126/science.1122277. PMID 16400146.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). "African golden cat". Wild Cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 246–251. ISBN 0-226-77999-8.
  5. ^ Temminck, C. J. (1827). "Félis doré Felis aurata". Monographies de Mammalogie. Paris: G. Dufour et E. d'Ocagne. pp. 120−121.
  6. ^ Temminck, C. J. (1827). "Félis a ventre tacheté Felis celidogaster". Monographies de Mammalogie. Paris: G. Dufour et E. d'Ocagne. pp. 140−141.
  7. ^ Gray, J. E. (1838). "On some new species of Quadrupeds and Shells". Annals of Natural History. 1 (1): 27–30.
  8. ^ Waterhouse, G. R. (1842). "Felis rutilus". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. X (September): 130.
  9. ^ Lydekker, R. (1906). "Description of two Mammals from the Ituri Forest". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 1906 (December): 992−996.
  10. ^ a b c Van Mensch, P. J. A.; Van Bree, P. J. H. (1969). "On the African golden cat, Profelis aurata (Temminck, 1827)". Biologica Gabonica. V (4): 235–269.
  11. ^ Severtzow, M. N. (1858). "Notice sur la classification multisériale des Carnivores, spécialement des Félidés, et les études de zoologie générale qui s'y rattachent". Revue et Magasin de Zoologie Pure et Appliquée. Série 2 X: 385–396.
  12. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1917). "The classification of the existing Felidae". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 8. XX (119): 329–350.
  13. ^ Allen, G. M. (1939). "A checklist of African mammals". Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College. 83: 242.
  14. ^ Hemmer, H. (1978). "The evolutionary systematics of living Felidae: Present status and current problems". Carnivore. 1 (1): 71–79.
  15. ^ Groves, C. P. (1982). "Cranial and dental characteristics in the systematics of Old World Felidae". Carnivore. 5 (2): 28–39.
  16. ^ Johnson, W. E.; O'Brien, S. J. (1997). "Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Felidae using 16S rRNA and NADH-5 mitochondrial genes". Journal of Molecular Evolution. 44 (Supplement 1): S98–S116. doi:10.1007/PL00000060. PMID 9071018.
  17. ^ a b Werdelin, L.; Yamaguchi, N.; Johnson, W. E.; O'Brien, S. J. (2010). "Phylogeny and evolution of cats (Felidae)" (PDF). In Macdonald, D. W.; Loveridge, A. J. Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923444-8.
  18. ^ Kitchener, A. C., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Eizirik, E., Gentry, A., Werdelin, L., Wilting A., Yamaguchi, N., Abramov, A. V., Christiansen, P., Driscoll, C., Duckworth, J. W., Johnson, W., Luo, S.-J., Meijaard, E., O’Donoghue, P., Sanderson, J., Seymour, K., Bruford, M., Groves, C., Hoffmann, M., Nowell, K., Timmons, Z. & Tobe, S. (2017). "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group" (PDF). Cat News. Special Issue 11: 60−61.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ a b Guggisberg, C. A. W. (1975). "Golden Cat Profelis aurata (Temminck 1827)". Wild Cats of the World. New York: Taplinger Publishing. pp. 72−74. ISBN 978-0-8008-8324-9.
  20. ^ Macdonald, D. W. (2009). D. W. Macdonald, ed. The Princeton encyclopedia of mammals. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press. p. 655. ISBN 978-0-691-14069-8.
  21. ^ Aronsen, G. P. (2010). "New photographic evidence of the African golden cat (Profelis aurata Temminck) at Mainaro, Kibale National Park, Uganda". African Journal of Ecology. 48 (2): 541−545.
  22. ^ Nakashima, Y. (2015). "Inventorying medium-and large-sized mammals in the African lowland rainforest using camera trapping". Tropics. 23 (4): 151–164.
  23. ^ Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. (1996). Wild Cats: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

External links

Aberdare National Park

The Aberdare National Park is a protected area in the Aberdare Mountain Range in central Kenya located east of the East African Rift Valley. It covers the higher areas and the Aberdare Salient to the east.

Asiatic linsang

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.


The caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. It is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears, and long canine teeth. Its coat is uniformly reddish tan or sandy, while the ventral parts are lighter with small reddish markings. It reaches 40–50 cm (16–20 in) at the shoulder and weighs 8–18 kg (18–40 lb). It was first scientifically described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1776. Three subspecies are recognised since 2017.

Typically nocturnal, the caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial, and lives mainly alone or in pairs. The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon small mammals, birds, and rodents. It can leap higher than 12 ft (3.7 m) and catch birds in midair. It stalks its prey until it is within 5 m (16 ft) of it, after which it runs it down, the prey being killed by a bite to the throat or to the back of the neck. Breeding takes place throughout the year, with both sexes becoming sexually mature by the time they are a year old. Gestation lasts between two and three months, resulting in a litter of one to six kittens. Juveniles leave their mothers at nine to ten months, though a few females stay back with their mothers. The average lifespan of the caracal in captivity is nearly 16 years.

Caracals have been tamed and used for hunting since the time of ancient Egypt.

Caracal (disambiguation)

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat.

Caracal may also refer to:

Caracal (genus), a genus of cats comprising the caracal, the African golden cat and the serval

Caracal (album), the 2015 album by Disclosure

Caracal, Romania, a city in historic Oltenia

Caracal Battalion, a unit of the Israel Defense Forces

Plasan Sand Cat, also Caracal APC, an armored vehicle from Plasan Sasa

Caracal pistol, a pistol made in the United Arab Emirates

2007.2 Caracal, a release of the operating system Pardus

variant of the Eurocopter EC725

Caracal, a Caldari cruiser from the MMO Eve Online

Caracal (genus)

Caracal is a genus of the subfamily Felinae in the family Felidae. Previously, it was considered to be a monotypic genus, consisting of only the type species: Caracal caracal, commonly called caracal.

Genetic analysis has shown that caracal, African golden cat and serval are genetically closely related and diverged from a common ancestor about 5.4 million years ago. Therefore, it has been suggested to subordinate all of them to the genus Caracal. This taxonomic classification is used in the IUCN Red List for the African golden cat. It is used as a synonym for the serval.


Catopuma is a genus containing two Asian small wild cat species, the bay cat (C. badia) and the Asian golden cat (C. temminckii).

Both are typically reddish brown in colour, with darker markings on the head. They inhabit forested environments in Southeast Asia. The bay cat is restricted to the island of Borneo. Originally thought to be two subspecies of the same animal, recent genetic analysis has confirmed they are, indeed, separate species.The two species diverged from one another 4.9-5.3 million years ago, long before Borneo separated from the neighboring islands. Their closest living relative is the marbled cat, from which the common ancestor of the genus Catopuma diverged around 9.4 million years ago.


The Felinae is a subfamily of the family Felidae that comprises the small cats that have a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.Other authors proposed an alternative definition for this subfamily: as comprising only the living conical-toothed cat genera with two tribes, the Felini and Pantherini; thus excluding all fossil cat species.

Golden cat

Golden cat may refer to:

African golden cat, Caracal aurata, a wild cat distributed in the rain forests of West and Central Africa

Asian golden cat, Catopuma temminckii, a medium-sized wild cat of South-Eastern Asia

Bay cat, Catopuma badia, a wild cat endemic to the island of Borneo

Indian brown mongoose

The Indian brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) looks similar to the short-tailed mongoose from Southeast Asia and is sometimes believed to be only a subspecies of this latter. The Indian brown mongoose is found in southwest India and Sri Lanka.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.


The Paradoxurinae are a subfamily of the viverrids that was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864.Pocock subordinated the oriental genera Paradoxurus, Paguma and Arctictis to this subfamily.


Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Salonga National Park

Salonga National Park is a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo located in the Congo River basin. It is Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve covering about 36,000 km2 or 3,600,000 hectares (8,900,000 acres). It extends into the provinces of Mai Ndombe, Equateur, Kasaï and Sankuru.


The serval (Leptailurus serval) is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries except rainforest regions. On the IUCN Red List it is listed as Least Concern.It is the sole member of the genus Leptailurus and was first described by German naturalist Johann von Schreber in 1776. Three subspecies are recognised. The serval is a slender, medium-sized cat that stands 54–62 cm (21–24 in) at the shoulder and weighs 9–18 kg (20–40 lb). It is characterised by a small head, large ears, a golden-yellow to buff coat spotted and striped with black, and a short, black-tipped tail. The serval has the longest legs of any cat relative to its body size.

Active in the day as well as at night, servals tend to be solitary with minimal social interaction. Both sexes establish highly overlapping home ranges of 10 to 32 km2 (4–12 sq mi), and mark them with feces and saliva. Servals are carnivores – they prey on rodents (particularly vlei rats), small birds, frogs, insects, and reptiles. The serval uses its sense of hearing to locate the prey; to kill small prey, it leaps over 2 m (6 ft 7 in) above the ground to land on the prey on its forefeet, and finally kills it with a bite on the neck or the head. Mating takes place at different times of the year in different parts of their range, but typically once or twice a year in an area. After a gestational period of two to three months, a litter of one to four is born. Weaning occurs at one month, and kittens begin hunting on their own at six months. The juveniles leave their mother at 12 months.

The serval prefers areas with cover such as reeds and tall grasses and proximity to water bodies, such as wetlands and savannahs. It occurs in protected areas across its range, and hunting of servals is either prohibited or regulated in several countries.

Upper Guinean forests

The Upper Guinean forests is a tropical seasonal forest region of West Africa. The Upper Guinean forests extend from Guinea and Sierra Leone in the west through Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to Togo in the east, and a few hundred kilometers inland from the Atlantic coast. A few enclaves of montane forest lie further inland in the mountains of central Guinea and central Togo and Benin.In the drier interior, the Upper Guinean forests yield to the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, a belt of dry forests and savannas that lies between the coastal forests and the savannas and grasslands of the Sudan further north. The Dahomey Gap, a region of Togo and Benin where the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic extends to the Atlantic coast, separates the Upper Guinean forests from the Lower Guinean forests to the east, which extend from eastern Benin through Nigeria, Cameroon, and south along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. The Upper Guinean forests are a Global 200 ecoregion.The Guinean moist forests are much affected by winds from the hot dry area to the north and the cool Atlantic currents. This gives the region a very seasonal climate with over 80 in (203 cm) of rain falling in some areas in the wet season. Over 2000 species of vascular plant have been recorded in the ecoregion, and mammals found here include the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), leopard (Panthera pardus), pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis), Ogilby's duiker (Cephalophus ogilbyi), Nimba otter shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei) and the African golden cat (Profelis aurata). There are twenty-one endemic and near-endemic forest birds in the ecoregion of which three, Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae, Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni and Spot-winged Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis are further restricted in distribution to the western forests only.The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) designated the Upper Guinean forests, which it calls the Guinean moist forests, as one of its Global 200 critical regions for conservation.

The WWF divides the Upper Guinean forests into three ecoregions:

The Western Guinean lowland forests extend from Guinea and Sierra Leone through Liberia and southeastern Côte d'Ivoire as far as the Sassandra River.

The Eastern Guinean forests extend east from the Sassandra River through Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to western Togo, with a few isolated enclaves further inland in the highlands of central Togo and Benin.

The Guinean montane forests are found at higher elevations in the Guinea Highlands, which extend through central and southeastern Guinea, northern Sierra Leone, and eastern Côte d'Ivoire.

Wildlife of Ivory Coast

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Extant Carnivora species

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