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Sabangau Felid Project - Update 2013 paw
Clouded Leopard Conservation and Research in Borneo
Sabangau Felid Project, Indonesian Borneo - Update 2013

Key findings made during 2013 for the Felid Project include:

  • Camera trap evidence has yielded the first population estimates of Sunda clouded leopards in Sabangau
  • The estimates reveal up to 4.41 clouded leopards live in every 100km2 of the tropical peat-swamp forest habitat at Sabangau
  • Male clouded leopards seem less disturbed by human presence than females and tolerate other males being in their vicinity
  • New sightings of the elusive bay cat and confirmation of the banteng persisting in the area were made


Continuing research at Sabangau has led to new insights into populations and the ecology of the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi). The OuTrop/WildCRU Camera Trapping Project has been providing evidence to estimate the population size of the clouded leopard, a species which is poorly understood due to a lack of research. Using a capture-recapture technique from camera trap footage from 2008-2013, researchers have been able to estimate that densities of the clouded leopard are in the range of 0.72-4.41 individuals per 100 km2.

The clouded leopards that appeared in the camera trap footage also provided some interesting debate, as no females were captured during the 5 year study period, and only one female was detected as being in the study area. The researchers have hypothesised different ideas to explain the lack of females detected; it is thought that females may be more wary of human presence, they may spend more time in trees, there may not be enough prey in the disturbed areas or they are avoiding areas with high concentrations of males to prevent intersexual competition, amongst other theories.

Males were much bolder, and surprisingly, males seem to tolerate other males in their ranges. Only one male over the study period, Stratus, was resident for the whole time, while the other males had shorter terms. The core study area is likely to have made up a great proportion of Stratus’s territory, explaining the frequent sightings on the camera traps.

Bantengs and Bay Cats

The camera traps in Borneo not only captured images of the clouded leopards, but excitingly, also records of the endemic bay cat, and the sparsely distributed banteng (Bos javanicus), a wild cattle species not seen in Eastern Kalimantan since 1993. This has provided fresh hope that a population of this endangered species is persisting in the area. The Bay cat (Pardofelis badia) sightings in Sungai Wain and Kutai were equally fantastic, as the bay cat is one of the rarest felids in the world.

The Future of the Project

New forests are currently being surveyed to add to the Kalimantan-wide surveys, with the hope that more photos bring further knowledge of the ecology of these incredible animals, and will aid conservation action to preserve them.