A team led by Panthera Kaplan scholar and graduate student, Laila Bahaa-el-din, in Gabon has captured the first known footage of one of the least known and most elusive wild cats on earth – the African golden cat. This exclusive footage was taken with cameras set as part of a research project to understand how African golden cats are affected by different levels of human activity, such as logging and hunting, which are prevalent across forested Africa. The African golden cat is found only in the forests of Central and West Africa, and grows to the size of a bobcat, weighing between 5-16 kilograms. Very few western scientists have observed the living animal in the wild and almost all records of the African golden cat consist of photographs taken by remote camera traps, or of dead animals (usually killed by local hunters).
"In fact, in 2002 a camera trap set by Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Philipp Henschel, took the first wild photo of a living African golden cat, featured below. Dr. Henschel is also credited with taking the first handheld photos of an African golden cat in 2003 (also below). The rare camera trap images show the two distinct color phases of the species - one being a rich red-brown and the other being a light grey, with variable spotting. This newly obtained footage shows what Panthera believes to be a young adult male of the grey phase with a very rich spotting pattern.
Panthera currently is funding two Kaplan Scholars to carry out African golden cat studies to unravel the mysteries of the species at two extremes of its range. In addition to Laila’s project in Gabon where leopards are still widespread, Kaplan Scholar and graduate student David Mills is working on the species in Uganda’s Kibale Forest where the golden cat is the region’s top predator since the local extinction of the leopard. The scientific data obtained through Laila’s and David’s projects will be invaluable to Panthera’s efforts to implement effective conservation initiatives on behalf of this rare species.
Read the press release,
"Panthera Releases First Known Footage of Elusive African Golden Cat in Gabon"
Read the CNN article, "Scientists capture rare video of elusive African cat."
Watch the National Geographic video, "Elusive Golden Cat Filmed."
Watch the Reuters video, "African Golden Cat makes video debut."
Read the Mongabay article, "Africa's least known cat caught on video."
An African golden cat sits directly in front of Panthera’s camera.
A playful African golden cat hunting a bat at night.