Monday, May 4, 2009

postheadericon First insights into the world’s least-known wild cat

The Bornean bay cat Pardofelis badia is a small endangered felid found only in the forests of Borneo. Arguably the world’s least known wild cat, this species was first photographed in the wild as recently as 2002! We know very little about this cat’s ecology –such as its population size or its habitat requirements – we don’t even know what this species eats. We do know that this cat is threatened from the rapid forest loss that is underway in Borneo, and that we need to increase our knowledge of the bay cat if we are to help conserve it.
For the last two and half years Jo, myself and our colleagues have been trying to answer some of these questions with the aid of radiotracking and camera traps. Whilst we’ve had little luck in catching these elusive cats our trusty camera traps have captured an amazing 23 images of bay cats (only 32 photos of this cat in the wild have ever been taken!) and are beginning to shed some light on the secret lives of these mysterious cats. We’re learning that although these cats can be active at night they exhibit a largely diurnal (daytime) activity cycle with a peak in activity at dawn. We’ve found that the two pelage colour phases (grey and red) can be present in the same population and that, at least in the Danum region, neither phase is dominant. We’re also getting a handle on minimum population densities, and, perhaps most importantly, we’re providing evidence that these cats can persist in recovering and recently selectively logged forests, but that their densities may be reduced from that found in primary forest.


emecee said...

The first time I heard of this cat was in 2002 or so, while designing a website for a college course I was taking. I created the website about "big cats" or "wild cats" and that was how I came to know about the Bornean Bay Cat. I have been a lover of photography for years, and of cats since I was very young. This cat stole my heart. Ever since learning of the Bay Cat, it has been my goal to one day visit Borneo, photograph the cat, and write an article about the journey. I have to say, I'm a bit green with envy that you've been able to photograph this amazing cat! At the same time, it makes me hopeful that some day I'll be able to do the same. I will be visiting your site often to see what other animals you encounter.