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Clouded leopard is collared successfully

Published on: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kota Kinabatangan: A female Sunda clouded leopard was trapped and fitted with a satellite collar for the first time ever by conservationist studying the movement of the endangered carnivore in the Lower Kinabatangan area.

The clouded leopard, named Rahsia and weighing 9.9kg, was caught in one of the traps set up along the Kinabatangan River in the vicinity of the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) on Aug 15.

WildCru team member Andrew Hearn, who is a PhD student with Oxford University, said on Monday that the leopard was the fourth wild leopard collared, with this one being the first female.

"After over a year and a half trapping each and every day, the capture of this healthy female cloudy we named Rahsia, is a real breakthrough for our project.

"We are hopeful that the data stemming from her collar will provide essential insights into her movements that will enable the development of appropriate conservation actions for her species," added Hearn.

He said the capture of the female leopard had come a few days after they had caught another female (which was previously captured in September 2013) but it was too small to be collared.

The collaborative project is being carried out by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), WildCRU and DGFC and is aimed at focusing on research and conservation of the Sunda clouded leopard and other carnivores in Sabah.

Its funded by Sime Darby Foundation, with additional funding and support provided by Atlanta Zoo, Houston Zoo, Recanati-kaplan Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Point Defiance Zoo, The Clouded Leopard Project and Rufford Foundation.

Project leader Dr Benoit Goossens, who is DGFC director, said the collaring of the female clouded leopard was part of an intensive satellite tracking programme to study the spatial ecology and habitat associations of the Sunda clouded leopard and other carnivores in the fragmented landscape of the Lower Kinabatangan.

"Our research is playing an important role in Sunda clouded leopard conservation and management.

Regardless of the level of efforts focused on maintaining and increasing the amount of natural habitat, we are ultimately fighting a losing battle, as we can currently see in the Kinabatangan.

"Therefore, understanding how wildlife is using this ever-changing landscape will help us mitigating and hopefully reducing the level of threats posed by the changing landscape," Goossens added.