Nature society wants Santubong clouded leopards protected at all costs


KUCHING: The Malaysian Nature Society is calling for an immediate evaluation of Gunung Santubong as home for Sarawak’s largest cat.

In February, there was a reported sighting of three clouded leopards.

The Bornean Clouded Leopard Neofelis diardi is an endemic medium-sized cat found only in Borneo, known locally as entulu.

It is the smallest of the “large cats”, which is the general term used for the members of the Felidae such as the tiger, lion and leopard. At over 2m in length, and weighing up to 25kg, this highly endangered cat is severely threatened by hunting and loss of habitat.

Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch (MNSKB) chairman Anthony Sebastian said the sightings were of great significance.

“MNSKB has been highlighting the biodiversity and historical importance of Gunung Santubong for many years. With more and more attention paid to Kuching’s iconic mountain, new discoveries are being made.

“Previously thought to have no hornbills, Santubong is now known to have four species. Previously thought to have one otter species, we now know there are possibly three species,” he said yesterday.

This discovery of the leopards was yet another addition to Santubong’s increasingly rich wildlife.

“It’s not just another wild cat — this is Borneo’s top predator and largest cat,” said Anthony.

The sightings were made by surveyors doing preliminary work for the cable car project.

“Unlike hornbills, whichcan fly, and will only be affected by disturbance caused by infrastructure development on higher parts of the mountain, clouded leopards will be adversely affected by such projects.

“Before any further plans are made on Santubong, it would be only prudent that a comprehensive study is commissioned to determine the requirements for clouded leopards on this isolated mountain, and what measures to be put in place to ensure their continued, and permanent survival.

“Sarawak cannot afford to lose a population of highly endangered large endemic cats living so close to Kuching. As arguably the most beautiful of the world’s wild cats because of its exquisite bold markings, the opportunities are enormous for Sarawak and Kuching’s tourism industry,” he said.

Anthony hoped that the surveyors would not disclose the animals’ exact location for their safety and survival.

Contact MNSKB at mnskuching@gmail.com for more information.

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