November 05, 2009
For three years Andrew Hearn and Jo Ross of the Global Canopy Programme have been surveying Borneo's wild cats with camera trapping; these include the Sunda clouded leopard, the marbled cat, the flat-headed cat, the leopard cat, and the bay cat, which is the only species of the five that is wholly endemic to Borneo. As well as recording the first video of the bay cat, they also took the first photos of the animal in Sabah.
Due to habitat loss and deforestation—largely from the spread of palm oil plantations and logging—the bay cat is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List and its population is in decline. If deforestation rates continue as expected, researchers have estimated that the already small population of bay cats will fall another 20 percent over the next decade.
The bay cat is not alone in its plight. Four of Borneo's five wild cats are classified by the IUCN as threatened with extinction due to continued deforestation.
"No other place has a higher percentage of threatened wild cats!" Jim Sanderson, an expert on the world's small cats, says. Pointing out that 80 percent of Borneo's cats face extinction, Sanderson adds that "not one of these wild cats poses a direct threat to humans."
So little is known about the bay cat that even its diet remains largely a mystery.
Hearn and Ross's surveys on Borneo's cats are with the UK's Global Canopy Programme's Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project, funded by the Darwin Initiative.
World's only video of the bay cat, Copyright the Global Canopy Programme: