There are three medium-sized African wild cats - the Caracal, Serval and African Golden Cat which weigh up to a maximum of 16 to 19kg. All three cats belong to the Caracal lineage, with the Caracal and African Golden Cat more closely related in the Caracal genus and the Serval in its own Leptailurus genus.

All three wild cat species predate on similar prey, however each cat occupies a different habitat thus reducing competition. The Caracal is predominantly a savanna / semi-arid cat, the Serval a grassland / wetland cat and the African Golden Cat a forest cat. Except for the desert and rainforest regions, both Caracals and Servals are widespread throughout Africa but the African Golden Cat only occurs in the rainforests of the central equatorial belt.

The Serval and the African Golden Cat are endemic to Africa but the Caracal's range extends through the Middle East and into Asia.

Caracal Distribution Map
Caracal Distribution Map

CARACAL (Caracal caracal)

HABITAT

Mostly scrubby, semi-arid rugged terrain

SIZE

Males 11-17 kg, max 20 kg

Females 9-15 kg

DIET

Mammals

(up to 40 kg antelope)

Birds

Reptiles

Invertebrates

BEHAVIOUR

Solitary, territorial

Primarily nocturnal

Adapted from: Cats of Africa by Bosman and Hall-Martin - Summary of Biological Data Pg 145.
African Golden Cat Distribution Map
African Golden Cat Distribution Map

AFRICAN GOLDEN CAT (Caracal aurata)

HABITAT

Primary & secondary forest, dense scrub

SIZE

11-18 kg

No data per gender

DIET

Mammals

(up to small antelopes)

Birds

Other prey - tbc

...

BEHAVIOUR

Solitary, territorial

Primarily nocturnal

Serval Distribution Map
Serval Distribution Map

SERVAL (Leptailurus serval)

HABITAT

Well-watered savanna & woodland

SIZE

Males 10-18 kg

Females 9-13 kg

DIET

Mammals - mostly larger rodents

(up to small antelopes)

Birds

Reptiles

Amphibians

BEHAVIOUR

Solitary, territorial

Primarily crepuscular

(active morning and evening)

List of African countries for Caracals, Servals and African Golden Cats

List of African countries where each medium-sized African cat species naturally occurs - according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (downloaded 7 Dec 2016 www.iucnredlist.org).

Use the Search bar to find out the following:

1. Which cats occur in a certain country - eg South Africa

2. How many countries does a cat occur in - eg Serval

3. Use the Sort function to find in which countries all three cats occur.

Country Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Algeria Caracal -- --
Angola Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Benin Caracal Serval --
Botswana Caracal Serval --
Burkina Faso Caracal Serval --
Burundi -- Serval --
Cameroon Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Central African Republic Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Chad Caracal Serval --
Congo -- Serval African Golden Cat
Côte d'Ivoire Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Djibouti Caracal Serval --
DR Congo Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Equatorial Guinea -- -- African Golden Cat
Egypt Caracal -- --
Eritrea Caracal Serval --
Ethiopia Caracal Serval --
Gabon -- Serval African Golden Cat
Gambia Caracal Serval --
Ghana Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Guinea Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Guinea-Bissau Caracal Serval --
Kenya Caracal Serval --
Liberia -- Serval African Golden Cat
Lesotho Caracal -- --
Libya Caracal Serval --
Malawi Caracal -- --
Mali Caracal Serval --
Mauritania Caracal -- --
Morocco Caracal -- --
Mozambique Caracal Serval --
Namibia Caracal Serval --
Niger Caracal Serval --
Nigeria Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Rwanda -- Serval --
Senegal Caracal Serval --
Sierra Leone -- Serval African Golden Cat
Somalia Caracal Serval --
South Africa Caracal Serval --
Sudan Caracal Serval --
Swaziland Caracal Serval --
Tanzania Caracal Serval --
Togo Caracal Serval --
Tunisia Caracal Serval --
Uganda Caracal Serval African Golden Cat
Western Sahara Caracal -- --
Zambia Caracal Serval --
Zimbabwe Caracal Serval --
Africa Political Map by Nations Online Project
Africa Political Map by Nations Online Project