Caracal-Lineage-Caracal-genus-African-Caracal-cat
Caracal-Lineage-Leptailurus-genus-African-Serval-cat
Caracal-Lineage-Caracal-genus-African-Golden-Cat
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Three Medium-Sized African Cats

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. The Caracal and African Golden Cat are more closely related in the Caracal genus but the Serval is more distantly related and is classed in its own Leptailurus genus.

 

Caracal-Lineage-Caracal-genus-African-Caracal-cat
Caracal-Lineage-Leptailurus-genus-African-Serval-cat

Each Cat Occupies a Different Niche

All three wild cat species predate on similar prey, however each cat occupies a different habitat thus reducing competition.

The Caracal predominantly occupies savanna and semi-arid habitats; the Serval inhabits grasslands and wetlands and the African Golden Cat is a forest habitat specialist.

 

Servals and Golden Cats are Endemic

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

Except for the desert and rainforest regions, both Caracals and Servals are widespread throughout Africa. However the African Golden Cat only occurs in the rainforests of the central equatorial belt.

Endemic = occurs in only one location

Caracal-Lineage-Caracal-genus-African-Golden-Cat

Comparison Chart of the Three Medium Sized African Cats

CARACAL

(Caracal caracal)

Caracal-Lineage-Caracal-genus-African-Caracal-cat
Image Source CC BY 2.5
Caracal Distribution Map
Caracal Distribution Map

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

(Caracal aurata)

Caracal-Lineage-Caracal-genus-African-Golden-Cat
Image Source CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
African Golden Cat Distribution Map
African Golden Cat Distribution Map

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

(Leptailurus serval)

Caracal-Lineage-Leptailurus-genus-African-Serval-cat
Image Source CC BY-SA 2.5
Serval Distribution Map
Serval Distribution Map

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:

  • Which cats occur in a certain country - eg South Africa
  • How many / which countries does a cat occur in - eg Serval

Use the Sort function (click on column heading) to find out which countries all three cats occur in.

See map of Africa below the table.

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