Move to protect the Sunda clouded leopard

  • Nation
  • Monday, 12 Jun 2017

Sunda clouded leopard: a male, photographed at around 1300m above sea level in the Crocker Range Park, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo on 23 October 2011. The largest felid on Borneo, little is known about this adaptable yet rare species. It is thought to occur at relatively low population densities and hence, is likely to be affected by ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and hunting of its prey base.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sunda clouded leopard will be the next endangered animal to come under protection in Sabah.

This will hopefully be made possible after local and international scientists, government agencies and industry players come together in a three-day workshop on how to protect the species.

The workshop, from today to Wednesday, organised by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), expects to see recommendations based on findings of a five-year extensive research on Sunda clouded leopards conducted by DGFC and SWD.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said they expect to have a Sunda Clouded Leopard Action Plan for Sabah drafted based on the recommendations.

“We hope the state government will adopt the action plan to save the species, which is threatened by habitat loss and forest fragmentation in Sabah,” he said in a statement.

Dr Goossens said the centre, SWD and collaborators from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), University of Montana and Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research have collected crucial information on Sunda clouded leopard population in Sabah including demography, behaviour, landscape ecology and genetics for the past 10 years.

“During this project, we carried out surveys using camera traps in several protected areas such as Crocker Range, Tawau Hills Park, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Kinabatangan, Malua, Ulu Segama, and Maliau Basin,” he said.

Safe and sound: A female Sunda clouded leopard named ‘Rahsia’ rescued during the project. Inset: A Sunda clouded leopard seen at the Crocker Range National Park near Keningau, Sabah.
Safe and sound: A female Sunda clouded leopard named ‘Rahsia’ rescued during the project.

The population is estimated to be around 700 in Sabah.

Dr Goossens said these projects and efforts were made possible with the support from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) since April 2011, with a total commitment of RM3.96mil over six years, to conduct research on three species – Proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and the Bornean banteng.

Four months ago, DGFC and SWD organised a workshop and conference on the conservation of the Proboscis monkey, which saw recommendations for drafting of a state action plan to conserve the endangered species.

YSD chairman Tun Musa Hitam said it was crucial for the state action plan to be adopted and implemented by the Sabah government as it is backed by scientific research and expert opinions as well as input from industry leaders.

“We must act immediately and effectively to stop further decline in the population or risk losing a precious species that is vital to the ecosystem it inhabits.

“We have already lost one of our last three Sumatran rhinoceroses, a species on the brink of extinction. Let us learn from this,” he added.

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