Identification, distribution and conservation status of the African golden cat Caracal Aurata in Kenya
AbstractThe African golden cat Caracal aurata is Africa’s least known felid. This paper describes how C. aurata can be most readily identified in the field and reviews what is known about this species’ distribution and conservation status in Kenya. Forty-six records for C. aurata from 38 sites were compiled. The Mau Forest is the only site in Kenya from which specimens of C. aurata have been obtained and remain available. Most of the records are for the four largest highland forests (Mount Elgon, Mau Forest, Aberdares Range, Mount Kenya). Other sites include Olorgesailie, Shompole Swamp, Pelewa Hills, Kaja, Tsavo West National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Maunga Hills, and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. The distribution of C. aurata in Kenya remains poorly known. There can be little doubt that C. aurata is one of Kenya’s rarest mammals and that its population is now highly fragmented. An open-access database (‘GoldenCatBase’) has been established to help bring more attention to C.aurata in Kenya and to aid in the compilation of information on its distribution and conservation status.
Keywords: African golden cat, Caracal aurata, conservation, distribution, identification, Kenya
Journal of East African Natural History 101(1): 3–16 (2012)