The large cats of southern Africa’s golden savannahs are world-renowned. African small cats are the pride of entire Africa. The lion and the leopard are a part of the continent’s well-known Big Five, whereas the cheetah is undoubtedly one of the vital sought-after safari sightings.
African small cats profile
However, Africa can also be a residence to seven smaller cats – a few of that are so elusive or endangered that only a few people even know of their existence. They are additionally a number of the continent’s most stunning creatures, and in this article, we check out what makes Africa’s forgotten felines so particular.
Caracal (Caracal caracal)
Known because the rooikat or red cat in Afrikaans, the caracal is discovered within the savannah and dry woodland areas of sub-Saharan Africa. They are additionally resident in areas of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, one of the African small cats.
Their name is derived from a Turkish phrase that means “black ear”, and certainly, long black ear tufts are considered one of this species’ defining options. The caracal has a brief tawny red coat and is essentially the most sturdy of Africa’s small cats with the most weight of 40 pounds/ 18 kilograms.
They are unbelievable predators, able to climbing timber and leaping more than 10 feet/ three meters into the air to catch birds in mid-flight. Caracals are troublesome to identify, being each nocturnal and naturally secretive.
African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica)
Those fortunate sufficient to identify an African wildcat in its natural atmosphere might be forgiven for mistaking it for an outsized tabby, due to its sandy coat and acquainted darkish stripes.
This isn’t any coincidence, since home cats are descended from African wild cats tamed within the Middle East some 10,000 years ago. Today, they’re discovered throughout Africa and across the fringe of the Arabian Peninsula, one of the African small cats.
They can survive in a large range of habitats, however, favor hilly areas and are much less widespread within the desert. African wildcats are nocturnal and use stalking ways to hunt small rodents, birds, and reptiles. Interbreeding with home cats is a possible risk to this species’ future.
Black-Footed Cat (Felis nigripes)
Also often known as the small-spotted cat, this species is endemic to southern Africa, the place it’s discovered predominantly within the dry, open areas of South Africa and Namibia.
The black-footed cat is the smallest of all African cat species with a median shoulder height of simply 25 centimeters/ 10 inches. It has a stocky construct with giant eyes and round ears, and its tawny fur is boldly marked with black spots, one of the African small cats.
They are shy, but fierce when cornered – which is why their Afrikaans name interprets as “anthill tiger”. Black-footed cats are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and are exceptionally arduous to identify attributable to their nocturnal behavior. During the day, they sleep within the deserted burrows of different animals.
African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata)
The reclusive African golden cat is endemic to the tropical forests of West and Central Africa, from the Central African Republic within the north to northern Angola within the south, one of the African small cats.
It is carefully associated with the serval and the caracal and is roughly two instances the size of a home cat. African golden cats are solidly constructed and range in shade from reddish-brown to darkish gray.
Some have spots throughout, whereas others are noticed solely on their bellies and internal legs. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List attributable to habitat loss and attempting to find bushmeat, and are recognized for being extremely secretive. Because of this, African golden cats had been solely photographed for the first time within the wild in 2002.
Sand Cat (Felis margarita)
The sand cat is present in North Africa and Southwest and Central Asia and is the one cat species to inhabit areas of true desert. Its defining options embrace a flat, huge head; quick legs, and outsized ears, one of the African small cats.
It is a small cat, with a floor-to-shoulder height of around 12 inches/ 30 centimeters – nevertheless, regardless of its size, it has the very best chew drive quotient of any cat species.
It preys on small rodents and is beautifully tailored for all times within the desert. Its pale, sandy fur permits for good camouflage, whereas the undersides of its paws are lined with thick fur to guard them against the burning sand.
Sand cats can survive temperatures starting from −5 °C/ 23 °F to 52 °C/ 126 °F, and search shelter within the burrows of different animals.
Serval (Leptailurus serval)
The serval is a slender, sleek cat discovered on the open grasslands of southern Africa. There are eighteen subspecies, with small inhabitants remaining within the North African nation of Morocco. They are medium-sized cats, with a median floor-to-shoulder height of 24 inches/ 60 centimeters.
As properly as an exquisite black-spotted coat, servals have small heads, outsized ears, and the longest legs of any cat in proportion to their size.
They use their distinctive listening to hunt rodents, which they stun by pouncing on them from heights of over 6.5 feet/ 2 meters. Servals favor areas with loads of tall grass and might be noticed throughout the day, one of the African small cats.
Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)
Also referred to as the reed or swamp cat, the jungle cat is a long-legged species with giant, pointed ears and a uniform sandy coat. It has a particular white muzzle and is present in China, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and components of Central and Southeast Asia.
In Africa, it solely happens in Egypt. Jungle cat mummies have been discovered within the tombs of historic Egyptian pharaohs, suggesting that they had been as soon as domesticated and used to assist control rodent populations, one of the African small cats.
Despite its name, the jungle cat avoids rainforest and woodland areas and as an alternative favors marshes, swamps, and wetlands. The jungle cat is energetic throughout the day and feeds on small rodents and birds. Learn more about Classic-Africa-safaris.
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