In order to appreciate just how awesome this camera trap footage from conservation group Panthera really is, you've got to understand just how extraordinary it is to watch an African golden cat on the hunt.

The felines are considered one of the least known and most elusive wild cats on the planet – few Western scientists have ever laid eyes on the them in the wild, and our records of these forest-dwelling predators consist mostly of camera trap photos or specimens killed by local hunters. So to see an African wild cat in such dramatic ambush mode is a rare treat indeed.

And that's why you should probably watch again – this time in slo-mo.

Captured in Uganda's Kibale National Park, the footage shows the cat pouncing on a red colobus monkey that had gathered with a group to feed on the dead wood of a tree stump. “An adult red colobus monkey is a considerable opponent for an African golden cat. With the golden cat failing to make a fatal bite immediately on ambush, it had to make a hasty retreat,” explains Laila Bahaa-el-din, a student researcher who is currently carrying out African golden cat studies in Gabon and Uganda. 

According to David Mills, another graduate student who is researching the species in the Kibale Forest, the footage offers important clues about the cats' hunting behaviour. “It is an exciting and rare glimpse into the world of this fascinating cat. We know a lot more about golden cats than we did a few years ago and yet we still know almost nothing about their behaviour. Primatologists in Kibale have observed monkeys emitting alarm calls at golden cats on several occasions and, considering this latest evidence, it's not hard to see why.” 

Since the local extinction of the leopard, the golden cat has become the region’s top predator. Listed as 'Near Threatened' by the IUCN, its populations across its range are at risk from intensive bushmeat hunting and loss of habitat due to deforestation. 

Another video of the species has also emerged, this time recorded in Uganda's Kalinzu Forest Reserve. It shows a cat's tree-top snooze interrupted by a troop of harassing monkeys.

Top header image: Laila Bahaa-el-din/Panthera