Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clouded leopard's death in Sarawak to be investigated

KUCHING: Sarawak's Forestry Department has ordered "a full and urgent investigation" into the killing of a rare and highly endangered clouded leopard in Saratok last week.

The department, in expressing its regret over the shooting of the leopard, said initial reports indicated the leopard had inadvertently wandered into the compound of a government agency.

A member of the public, who was unaware of the animal's totally protected status, shot it dead.

"I am deeply saddened by this incident," said its director and and the state's Controller of Wildlife Datuk Ali Yusop in a statement.

He said the incident served to remind the department of the need to redouble its efforts to educate the public on the importance and necessity of protecting endangered flora and fauna.

"I wish to reiterate to the public not to approach, catch or harm any unknown and non-threatening wild animal they may come across."

Clouded leopards, the largest cats in Borneo, are also found in India, southern China, mainland Southeast Asia and Sumatra.

Despite their wide range, they are thinly dispersed and their total population worldwide is estimated to be fewer than 10,000.

They get their name from the distinctive "clouds" on its coat -- ellipses partially edged in black, with the insides a darker colour than the background.

The clouded leopard has remarkable tree climbing abilities for such a large predator, (1.5m from the nose to the tip of the tail), which allows it to hunt in the rainforest canopy as well as on the ground.