Monday, September 06, 2010

Capturing Borneo’s elusive feline species

Oxford University researcher, Andrew Hearn, has been religiously visiting villages in rural Sabah, speaking to the locals and trudging through rough terrains placing camera traps and collecting data on five of Borneo’s cat species. He has been doing this for nearly four years and remains very passionate about his quest.

There are five species of cats in Borneo, he says. And almost nothing is known about all of them.

Andrew, who is currently based at the Danau Girang Field Centre in Kinabatangan, a facility co-managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University said that the Borneo cat species comprise of the Leopard Cat, the Bornean Bay Cat, the Flat Headed Cat, the Sunda Clouded Leopard Cat and the Marbled Cat.

The Leopard Cat, he said, is quite common and can be found throughout Southeast Asia right up to Russia.

“So, we are not really worried about this species because it is widely dispersed and it actually does well in oil palm plantations,” he said.

The other four species of cats, on the other hand, have restricted distribution.

The Bornean Bay Cat is only found in the island of Borneo and was first photographed between 2001 and 2002.

“This is incredible in today’s day and age, and we know almost nothing about this animal…we have very small information that they were sighted here in the 1900s but apart from that, we know nothing. No one has ever studied it, so this is a species that we are particularly interested in looking at,” he said.

Then there is the flat headed cat. Again, this species has never been studied and there is a lack of information concerning them. Its distribution, said Andrew, is restricted and that the species can be found in Borneo, Sumatra and parts of Peninsula Malaysia and possibly on the very southern area of Thailand.

“From the looks of it, this cat is restricted to the lowlands which had been traditionally the area where villages are sited and where the people are more prone to cutting the forests down. So this is a big problem for this species because there is now almost zero habitat for them,” he said.

Continue reading at: Capturing Borneo’s elusive feline species

1 comment:

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