Video: Sunda clouded leopard caught on film for the first time

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
February 10, 2010



Carnivore researchers have captured the first footage of the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) in Malaysia. The island's largest predator was only proclaimed a unique species in 2006 when genetic evidence and analysis of its markings proved it was distinct enough from its mainland relative—the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)—to be considered a new species. The recent classification has prompted renewed interest in this elusive and threatened cat.

The film, the first showing a Sunda clouded leopard (also known as the Bornean clouded leopard), was captured in the Dermakot Forest Reserve in the Malaysian part of Borneo. Researchers studying the cat, along with four other carnivores in the area (including four other cat species) encountered an individual Sunda clouded leopard while driving one night—a truly rare occurrence.

"For the first eleven months we had not encountered a single clouded leopard during these night surveys," Mr Andreas Wilting of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany told the BBC. "So every one of our team was very surprised when this clouded leopard was encountered. Even more surprising was that this individual was not scared by the light or the noises of the truck. For over five minutes this clouded leopard was just roaming around the car, which compared to the encounters with the other animals is very strange, as most species are scared and run away after we have spotted them."

The Sunda clouded leopard is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. It is threatened by habitat loss, which threatens the majority of species on the island of Borneo including orangutans, elephants, Sumatran rhinos. Widespread deforestation first for timber and now for oil palm plantations has resulted in incredible forest loss on the island of Borneo: from over 90 percent forest cover to 50 percent in less than 60 years.

Borneo is also home to the bay cat (Endangered), the flat-headed cat (Endangered), the marbled cat (Vulnerable), and the leopard cat.

"No other place has a higher percentage of threatened wild cats!" Jim Sanderson, an expert on the world's small cats, told Mongabay.com. Pointing out that 80 percent of Borneo's cats face extinction, Sanderson added that "not one of these wild cats poses a direct threat to humans."



To see photos of the Sunda clouded leopard and Borneo's other four cats: Photos: Palm oil threatens Borneo's rarest cats and Saving the world's most recently discovered cat species in Borneo.




Footage of the Sunda clouded leopard in the wild.







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (February 10, 2010).

Video: Sunda clouded leopard caught on film for the first time.

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0210-hance_sunda.html