We may hear a lot about lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), but the African golden cat is one big predator that a lot of people don't even know exists. That may be because it's a pretty camera-shy cat, only rarely ever photographed. However, now that has all changed, after scientists recently captured footage of this sleek hunter in action, trying to take down a monkey nearly its own size, no less!
Panthera, the conservation group that released the clip, claims that this is likely the first video ever taken that features an African golden cat actively hunting in the daylight. Prior to this, motion-activated night cams and still photography were all biologists had to work with when trying to determine how this sleek and spotted predator stalked it prey.
The footage was reportedly captured in Kibale National Park, Uganda, by a remote camera trap set by Samuel Angedakin. It had been set up as part of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Pan African Programme: The Cultured Chimpanzee. The camera was filming a group of red colobus monkeys gathered around and feeding on the dead wood of a tree stump when a golden blur disrupted the meal.
A slow motion video uploaded by Angedakin, the Kibale Project Manager for the program, shows that this blur was the incredibly fast and sleek African golden cat. You can watch below as the animal successfully tackles one of the monkeys straight into bush cover just out of sight. The ensuing battle can only be left to one's imagination. (Scroll to read on...)
And the same goes for a great deal about these cats.
"We know a lot more about golden cats than we did a few years ago and yet we still know almost nothing about their behavior," David Mills, who is also studying the species in Kibale, explained in a statement. "Primatologists in Kibale have observed monkeys emitting alarm calls at golden cats on several occasions and, considering this latest evidence, it's not hard to see why."
At the end of the video you can see both the monkey and the golden cat sprinting in separate directions.
Laila Bahaa-el-din, a colleague of Mills', added that "an adult red colobus monkey is a considerable opponent for an African golden."
The cat grows to the size of your average bobcat, and weighs between 11 and 35 pounds. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, most colobus monkeys, including the red variety, grow anywhere between 15 and 30 pounds as mature adults, and boast sharp incisors for biting to boot.
"With the golden cat failing to make a fatal bite immediately on ambush, it had to make a hasty retreat," Bahaa-el-din said.
This, the researchers suggest, may be but a taste of what could be described as a "war" between the monkeys and golden cats. Another unique video recently captured by Yasuko Tashiro of the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University shows the elusive predator trying to take a midday nap, only to be surrounded and harassed by a mob of brave colobuses. Eventually, the hunter was forced to descend from the comfort of his tree branch and flee the scene. (Scroll to read on...)
According to the IUCN Red List, despite what troubles it might experience day-to-day, the golden cat (Caracal aurata) is not a vulnerable species just yet. The species' population has only declined about 20 percent over the last few decades and remains healthy. Like most big cats, its largest threats are habitat loss. But thanks to isolation, this animal has remained largely unknown to the ever-growing pelt market.
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