One of the world’s least-known African wild cats, the African golden cat (Caracal aurata) was caught on video recently with a remotely placed motion-activated camera. They are nocturnal and shy so not much research has been done about their behavior, compared with other wild cats. Rainforest is their preferred habitat, and they are good tree climbers; they mainly eat rodents and squirrels. Reportedly no litters have ever been observed in the wild. There may be as many as 10,000.
The recently captured video resulted from the efforts of a graduate student from Gabon. It was recorded in an area where logging is also taking place. Logging is destroying large swaths of natural habitat for many animals so the student is trying to collect information about its impact on wildlife. This work is important because large industries often don’t have any idea about the lives of wild animals living in forests, because they see the trees as nothing more than a resource to extract.
Conservationists are dismissed too quickly as obstructing economic progress, but healthy ecosystems typically contribute far more value to humans and the planet than any profit-driven endeavors. Many forests are logged in an unsustainable manner for quick cash, with the damaged or destroyed ecosystems left for others to restore, if it is even possible.
This particular cat is dependent upon forest cover for survival. Its’ population has been declining due to deforestation and hunting. Currently it has a conservation status of near threatened.
Image Credit: Philipp Henschel/Panthera