Why are African golden cats endangered?

African golden cat
African golden cat. Photo: Terry Whittaker.
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As at the date of this post, there are many reasons why the African golden cat is endangered and all of them are to do with human population growth and activity. The human population within the distribution area of this cat shows the fastest growth rate in the world at 2.6 to 2.8% per year in West, Central and East Africa. It is estimated that the human population in the countries where the golden cat lives will quadruple by 2100.

Firstly, the African Golden cat is a forest dwelling cat and before 2000 there had been about a 90% reduction in rainforest in West and East Africa. At 2006, in central Africa, there had been a 40% in rainforest reduction. And in the past 15 years in the countries where the African golden cat resides there has been at least a 6.5% reduction in forest cover.

In addition, there is still intensive hunting for bushmeat in Africa. In the African Congo Basin which is described as the cat’s main stronghold, there has been up to 1 million tonnes of harvested bushmeat. This is led to what is described as “empty forest syndrome”. It is believed that bush meat hunting accounts for a greater loss in population numbers of this cat than deforestation.

Camera traps and studies on bushmeat do not record the existence of this cat in areas where there is more intense hunting of the animal e.g. in village hunting areas such as in central Gabon and national parks. Where there is moderate bushmeat hunting golden cats are recorded at less than a quarter of the normal population densities in unaffected areas.

It is also reported that golden cats are easier to hunt than other animals and are therefore killed off in any one area more quickly than other medium or large mammal species.

Further, where there are human settlements there is reduction in population size of large and medium bodied mammals which includes the African golden cat. Unfortunately, more than 64% of the forest habitat of the African golden cat in the Congo basin lies within 10 km of road. Animals within this zone are also subjected to higher hunting pressures.

Roadbuilding has increased rapidly in the past 15 years on the African continent. For example, there has been a 35% increase in the development of roads in the Democratic Republic Of The Congo and up to a 300% increase in the northern Republic of Congo since 2000. Loss of prey and direct deaths may have resulted in the extirpation of the cat in highly impacted areas.

Further, people lay down wire-snares to catch wildlife and the golden cat is sometimes caught up in the snares.

Foreign investment is pouring into Africa because big business see that the continent can be exploited. China is in Africa in a very big way. There is a “stampede of foreign investment” in mining activities and infrastructure development associated with it. Commercial activity like this destroys habitat and therefore destroys mammals such as the African golden cat. In central Africa it is estimated that 42% of areas important to the survival of the golden cat will be directly impacted if development for mining occurs in those regions.

Further, there is conversion of rainforests to oil palm plantations which has caused extensive loss of forest habitat for this cat. And where there is commercial development there are more roads as mentioned above and where there are more roads this allows access to more remote areas where further bushmeat hunting takes place to further decimate the population size of this endangered medium-sized cat species.

It is all about humans destroying the planet. It is not only the African golden cat which is suffering as a consequence. There are many animals dependent upon the forest for a home. Their home is being destroyed. The information for this page comes from the IUCN Red List. But this organisation is asleep at the wheel or corrupted by vested interests in my opinion.


African golden cat. Camera trap photo: Gary P. Aronsen, research associate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University, USA

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