African golden cat geographic range (updated)

The African golden cat geographic range (distribution throughout the planet) is set out below in 2 maps to show the difference between 2009 and 2021, a time frame of 12 years. You’ll see quite a strong difference. Both are based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) website maps of 2009 and 2012. The geographic ranges or distributions of all the wild cats need constant updating because (a) the current information may be and often is incomplete and (b) the ranges are always changing, usually to a smaller size because of the activities of people. This map made about 10 years ago, however. It remains very valid.

Famous Camera Trap Photo of African Golden Cat
Famous Camera Trap Photo of African Golden Cat
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That is why this map can be upgraded in real time by anyone willing and able to do so. Go here to make it better: African golden cat geographic range. This link points to the original Google My Maps page that supplies the one below.

African golden cat distribution as at 2009

View African Golden Cat Geographic Range 2009 in a larger map

African golden cat distribution as at 2021

Colour guide: Orange=extant(living/existing). Purple=possibly extant. Purple with cross-hatch=possibly extinct.

African golden distribution 2021 as per IUCN Red List
African golden distribution 2021 as per IUCN Red List


The best sources on the African golden cat geographic range are probably (a) Wild Cats of the World (WoW – published 2002) by Mel and Fiona Sunquist and (b) the Red List. The problem with the former is that it is in a book and it was published almost 20 years ago. The Red List can constantly update their website.

As a matter of interest, the map of the range from WoW shows a smaller area than by the Red List, which is current (2009). That is unusual as ranges are generally shrinking due to human activity. That indicates, I think, a lack of full information on the African golden cat geographic range.

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According to WoW, the African golden cat is found in tropical forests of equatorial Africa from Senegal in the west to Kenya in the east. The map shows the countries in between. There is a very noticeable break in the continuity of the range in Benin (the cat is present in Nigeria on the eastern boundary). This is because of a lack of information (a “lack of confirmed records” – Red List). This also applies to The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau and Togo. Despite that this wildcat is marked as occupying Guinea Bissau (is this an inconsistency?). Perhaps it is simply that the African golden cat’s presence is uncertain in these countries. This is a complete list of countries which the cat might occupy: Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo.

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As I said things are not as clear as the map indicates and any useful input would be welcome. Within the range indicated the golden cat would seem to be at home in all kinds of forest, which includes: primary forest, secondary vegetation, even recently logged forest and riverine forest (forest that is on or near the banks of a river; riparian). Despite living in forests this cat is probably a terrestrial hunter rather than hunting in the trees (for example, the Clouded leopard hunts in the trees).

Camera trap photographs

I would like to present some really fantastic camera trap photographs (the best kind, I think, because they are natural) of the African Golden cat by Gary P. Aronsen, research associate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University, USA.

The photos are exceptional in that photographs of this cat in the wild going about its business are very rare indeed. They were taken in the Kibale National Park, Uganda. It is marked on the map above and one of these photographs is embedded there too. Please click the blue flags. I have enlarged and cropped the area of the cat in each case so it shows more clearly.

RELATED: African Golden Cat Facts For Kids

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