KOTA KINABALU: A wild Sunda clouded leopard trapped and fitted with a satellite collar by conservationists in Sabah’s east coast Kinabatangan will provide vital data to the elusive big cat in the area.
The male leopard weighing 24.75kg was captured in one of the purpose-built traps placed along the Kinabatangan River on Saturday.
It was collared as part of an intensive satellite-collaring programme to study the animal in the fragile Kinabatangan landscape.
The project by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), WildCRU (Oxford University) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) focuses on research and conservation of the leopard.
DGFC carnivore expert Meg Evans said the latest leopard caught was the fourth male collared in the vicinity of the centre.
“We are planning to collar more along the Kinabatangan,” said Evans, adding that they named the latest catch Cakar (Claws).
DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the data produced by the first four cats collared between September 2013 and September 2014 had provided considerable insight into the elusive carnivore’s ecology.
“In June, SWD and DGFC held an international workshop on the Sunda clouded leopard conservation and a Clouded Leopard Action Plan is now being drafted,” he said.
The information provided by Cakar will be vital for the management of the population in the fragile Kinabatangan flood plain.
“The species is facing threats from hunting, pet trade and habitat loss,” Dr Goossens said.
The project is mainly financed by Sime Darby Foundation, with additional funding and support from Atlanta Zoo, Houston Zoo, Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Rufford Foundation and The Clouded Leopard Project.