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Leopard cat in K’batangan fitted with satellite collar
Published on: Thursday, September 12, 2019

KINABATANGAN: A wild female leopard cat was caught and fitted with a satellite collar near here as part of the Danau Girang Field Centre’s (DGFC) Carnivore Programme, a collaborative project with the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD). 

According to a statement Wednesday, the wild felid (kucing liar), which DGFC named Ratu meaning queen in Malay, was caught and was attached with the satellite collar during a night survey in Pendirosa Estate, near here, recently.

The Carnivore Programme leader and carnivore conservation officer at DGFC, Dr Miriam Kunde, said Ratu was the first leopard cat collared as part of the project. 

“Hopefully, we will be able to catch and collar more leopard cats to study their movement through this fragmented landscape and to understand how they use it,” she said.

Kunde said movement data of the animal would assist in understanding how such a resilient species utilises both landscapes - forest and oil palm plantation.

The Carnivore Programme goes in tandem with DGFC’s “Health at the Edge Project” (H@EP) led by Research Associates at DGFC Dr Sergio Guerrero-Sanchez and Dr Liesbeth Frias.

According to Frias, the project aimed to tackle health-related problems from an integrated ecological, veterinary and human health approach. 

Guerrero-Sanchez explained that the project targeted leopard cats as sentinels to assess the potential effects of anthropogenic disturbance on the health of Bornean cat populations.

“Leopard cats can be found inhabiting a broad range of habitat types, including oil palm plantations. 

“By using them as a model species, we aim to assess cross-species transmission at the wildlife-human interface as their home ranges can potentially overlap those of domestic carnivores in plantations and those of more vulnerable cats in adjacent forests,” said Guerrero-Sanchez.

Both projects are supervised by DGFC Director Dr Benoit Goossens, who said that a better understanding of the movements of the wild felid would help in evaluating the impacts of habitat fragmentation and quality in ranging patterns of the species in the Kinabatangan landscape.

“Leopard cats and the potential for disease transmission between them and domestic animals provide a relevant model to evaluate the potential health risks threatening other species, such as flat-headed cats and marbled cats,” he said. 



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