Elusive clouded leopard tagged in Kinabatangan

KINABATANGAN: A wild Sunda clouded leopard was trapped and fitted with a satellite collar last week.

“On the morning of October 28, this new male leopard entered one of our purpose-built traps along the Kinabatangan River.

“It was a very healthy male, weighing 24.75 kg. And, we named him Cakar for “storm,” said Meg Evans, a PhD student at Cardiff University and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) carnivore expert.

Evans said in a statement here yesterday Cakar was the fourth male collared in the vicinity of DGFC. The last clouded leopard (a female) was collared in August 2014.

“We are planning to collar more individuals along the Kinabatangan,” added Evans. This effort is part of a collaborative project between the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), WildCRU (Oxford University) and DGFC.

The project, focusing on research and conservation of the Sunda clouded leopard in Sabah, is mainly funded by Sime Darby Foundation, with additional funding and support from Atlanta Zoo, Houston Zoo, Recanati-kaplan Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Point Defiance Zoo, Rufford Foundation and The Clouded Leopard Project.

Meanwhile DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the collaring of this new male was part of an intensive satellite tracking programme to study the spatial ecology and habitat associations of the Sunda clouded leopard in the fragmented landscape of the Lower Kinabatangan.

The area is dominated by palm oil plantations and highly degraded forest.

Dr Goossens who is also Reader at Cardiff University added that the data produced by the first four individuals collared between September 2013 and September 2014 had provided considerable insights into the landscape ecology of this elusive top carnivore.

“Our results are currently being assessed for publication,”he said.

Dr Goossens also said that last June, SWD and DGFC organised an international workshop on the Sunda clouded leopard conservation, and that a Clouded Leopard Action Plan was currently being drafted.

According to him, the information provided by Cakar wold be extremely important for the management of the population in a fragile landscape such as the Kinabatangan floodplain. “The species is currently facing threats from hunting, pet trade and habitat loss,” he said.

Source : New Sabah Times