Malaysia: Survey finds number of Sunda clouded leopards dwindling in Sabah

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 15 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A six-year camera-trap survey at eight protected areas in Sabah has led to a worrying discovery.

Based on a report compiled from the survey, researchers estimated there are around 750 Sunda clouded leopards in the State.

The study was recently published in the scientific journal Oryx, according to a joint press release from Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), United Kingdom's WildCRU and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

The study also found that changes to Sabah's forest landscape may be affecting the wild cats.

"Led by WildCRU researchers in collaboration with partners from SWD, DGFC , Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Panthera, the study provided first evidence that population density of this species is negatively affected by hunting pressure and forest fragmentation.

"We found poaching activity evidence in all forest areas with the lowest detection rates being in Danum and the highest in Kinabatangan," said WildCRU's Andrew Hearn, the first author of the paper.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said it is hoped the results of the study coupled with the action plan for Sunda clouded leopard currently drafted and scheduled to be launched early next year, will help manage the species in Sabah's forests.

"The fact that selectively logged forests provide an important resource for Sunda clouded leopards, suggests that appropriate management of these commercial forests could further enhance their conservation value.

"But the overriding priority for our wildlife managers is to reduce poaching pressure by reducing access to the forest interior along logging roads and by increasing enforcement patrols at strategic areas,” concluded Goossens.


Fewer than 800 Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah
The Star 16 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sunda clouded leopard is becoming the target of poachers, with a study by the Oxford University showing there are fewer than 800 animals left in Sabah.

The study by the Wildlife Con­ser­vation Research Unit (WildCRU) from Oxford University showed the number of these wild cats are dwindling.

WildCRU’s Dr Andrew Hearn said they had evidence that poaching activities and deforestation were affecting the population of these leopards.

“We found evidence of poaching activities with the lowest detection rates in Danum and the highest in Kinabatangan.

He said they conducted intensive camera-trap surveys at eight protected areas in Sabah and individual animals were identified based on the cloud-shaped markings on their coat and the morphology.

He said the study also showed that there were huge differences in the population, with more of these animals in areas with less forest activities.

The study was carried out in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department and Panthera, a conservation group.

Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said the fact that selectively logged forests provided an important resource for the leopards suggested that appropriate management of these commercial forests could further enhance their conservation value.

“But the overriding priority for our wildlife managers is to reduce poaching pressure – by reducing access to the forest interior along logging roads and by increasing enforcement patrols at strategic areas,” he said.

He said he hopes that the results of the study – together with the action plan for the leopard that is currently being drafted and which should be launched by early next year – would help manage the species in Sabah.

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