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African Golden Cat - Profelis aurata

By: C.M.Shorter

The African Golden Cat is a shy, solidly built cat inhabiting the forests of equatorial Africa. They are so shy that no dens with kittens have been studied from the wild and very few have been raised in captivity making them difficult to research. The African Golden Cat frequently occupies the same territories as the Leopard, hence their common name "The Leopard's Brother". These cats are arboreal and have been seen in field studies resting on lower branches of trees during the day. This striking felid is usually found high in the Rainforests, but they also inhabit drier woodlands as long as they are near water. They are known to inhabit high mountainous areas up to 3,600 metres living in alpine moorlands, sub-alpine and bamboo forests.
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African Golden Cat
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These cats are typically found in two different colors - red or gray which were once thought to be two separate species. Their cheeks, chin and under parts are whitish in color with their belly and inner sides of limbs marked with a variable amount of dark spotting. Body coloring ranges from chestnut through fawn to silver, with varying marking: spotted all over, spots on the back and neck, no pattern except on flanks, and no pattern except for their belly. The African Golden Cat's head is relatively small sporting a large muzzle, with beautiful eye coloration with irises from green to golden brown, ears are rounded with black backsides. Melanistic individuals have been known to occur.

Prey consists of rodents, monkeys, duiker, hyrax, other small ungulates and a variety of birds usually taken by stalking and rushing at ground level. Fortunately, the African Golden Cat adapts well to logged areas which provides a dense secondary undergrowth which they favor. These type of man-made "edge environments" contain a high density of rodents. However, primary forest without human disturbance is their optimal habitat. African Golden Cats rank high in the local religious beliefs of the Cameroon pygmy tribesman who carry their tail as a talisman to protect them when hunting elephants. It is said that their fur is so valued for tribal robes, it is not usually traded by the indigenous people. In fact, these cats are so prized by the locals, these same tribesman will not reveal their location to researchers.

In Uganda's Bwindi National Park eradication of the Leopard has left the African Golden Cat the dominant carnivorous predator in the area. Hunting is prohibited in only 12 of the Golden Cat's 26 range countries at present.

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Scientific Name: Profelis aurata
Common Name(s): African Golden Cat, Leopard's Brother
Range: Equatorial Africa
Average Weight: 11-14kg (24-30 lbs)
Length: 75-140 cm (30"-57") Tail no more than 50% of head & body length
Diet: Carnivorous. African Golden Cat's prey consists mostly of rodents, monkeys, duiker, hyrax, other small ungulates and birds. These cats are known to scavenge other predator's kills.
Gestation Period: 75-78 Days (Eyes open in 6-7 days), weaned at 3-4 months.
Cub Maturity: 22 months - 2 Years
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 3 Kittens
Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Predators: Man. Larger Carnivores occupying the same territory.
Social Structure: Solitary (except during Mating Season)
Territory Size: 15-30 miles
Conservation Status: Present Status and Population Unknown. African Golden Cats are currently protected under Appendix II of CITES, Endangered Species Act.

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