Tuesday, September 28, 2010

postheadericon Kinabatangan's clouded leopards reveal themselves

Sunda clouded leopards recently photographed in the 
Kinabatangan Wildife Sanctaury
After a rather slow start, the number of wild cat photo captures from the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding forests are starting to mount up.  Our focal species, the Sunda clouded leopard, appears to have been particularly busy along Sabah’s largest river since I last wrote, and we have now collected nine photo captures, of five separate events. Careful observation of the photos (see left) reveals that so far we have recorded 1 male, and two females.

A sliver of forest adjacent to the Kinabatangan river. Such narrow 
strips of riparian forest may act as corridors for threatened 
species such as Bornean felids, and provide essential linkages 
for otherwise fragmented blocks of forest
The female clouded leopards were snapped close to the banks of Danau Tongog, a beautiful oxbow lake to the west of our study area. Both individuals were photographed approximately 1 km apart, walking along a well-worn forest trail that encircles the lake, which is frequently used by staff and tourists of the nearby community-run tourist facility, the Tongog Ecocamp. These photo-captures lend further support to our theory that existing trails, even those regularly frequented by people, are one of the best locations to detect Sunda clouded leopards with camera traps.

One of these females, CLF1, was also photographed moving through a relatively narrow band (ca. 100 m wide) of riparian forest in Lot 5, which is sandwiched between the river and the surrounding oil palm plantations. This location is close to where we previously observed a flat-headed cat whilst spotlighting (detailed in Hearn et al 2010), and thus provides some of the first evidence that such riparian  forest buffers may be utilised by Bornean felids, and may thus provide essential connectivity between otherwise isolated forest fragments along the Kinabatangan.  The potential role of forest corridors as a tool for Bornean carnivore conservation is something that we aim to explore further during our new project, the Kinabatangan Carnivore Programme.


Elizabeth Lara said...

Hi- just wanted to make a connection and to let you all know that your work is appreciated. I am an undergrad student at the University of California Davis studying Nature and Culture and minoring in Wildlife Fish and Conservation Biology. I've written a report about yours and others' work with the Bornean Bay Cat and want to say: I think you're doing wonderful things and thanks for keeping the public updated through this blog.

Anonymous said...

Awesome resource,I am using this blog as part of a teaching program in Sydney Australia with primary school students...exploring sunda leopards and snow leopards, learning rich vocabulary and talking about habitats