London, September 17 (ANI): The elusive wild African golden cat has been photographed deep in the jungle of Uganda.
The African golden cat is a medium-sized cat, about 80cm long, that lives within forest across central and west Africa.
According to a report by BBC News, biologist Dr Gary Aronsen of Yale University in the US, captured three images of the golden cat with a digital infrared camera trap.
Although taken in black and white, the new photos reveal this particular golden cat actually has a dark coat.
The cat is so rare few researchers working in African forests have seen it.
A colleague of Dr Aronsen's has worked for years in Kibale National Park, Uganda where the photos were taken, and has seen the animal only once, while Dr Aronsen knows of only one other published photograph of the cat in the wild, taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that while many villagers and locals may see the cat crossing roads, or maybe raiding domesticates, there are just not that many researcher sightings. We're usually looking for other things," he said.
"As a result, there are no direct field studies of the African golden cat," said Dr Aronsen.
Despite its name, the cat's fur colour is variable and it can be either spotted or not.
"The golden cat is melanistic, meaning that its colour varies over its lifetime, and across the continent," explained Dr Aronsen.
"I was disappointed that the cameras could not give me more data on (the cat's) colour, but the images suggest it is a 'dark phase' cat," he added.
Dr Aronsen originally set up his camera trap to take images of primates living within the park.
"For the most part, the cameras capture amazing images of elephants, monkeys, chimpanzees, duiker and buffalo. The cameras also can record movies, so you can see multiple animals in a group, such as chimpanzeesm," he said.
But he was still surprised when it recorded three separate images of a golden cat. "That meant that the camera was located within the cat's core area," he said.
The images were taken in an old-growth forest patch located within a place called Mainaro, which is a patchwork of old-growth, regenerating, and replanted forests, Dr Aronsen explained.
"Given that three images were captured within an old-growth patch, I'd say that the Kibale golden cats may prefer this habitat. But, the range of any cat is large, and so they can go anywhere to hunt," he said. (ANI)