Elusive Clouded Leopard Nick-Named Cakar Tagged In Kinabatangan

Dr Sergio Guerrero-Sanchez from DGFC checking the heartbeat of Cakar during his collaring operation. – Photo credits Danau Girang Field Centre

KINABATANGAN: A wild Sunda clouded leopard was trapped and fitted with a satellite collar in the Kinabatangan last Saturday.

This is part of a collaborative project between the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), WildCRU (Oxford University) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

“During the morning of October 28th, a new male Sunda clouded leopard entered one of our purpose-built traps along the Kinabatangan River,” said Meg Evans, PhD student at Cardiff University and DGFC’s carnivore expert.

Lead researcher Meg Evans setting up a satellite collar on Cakar, with the help of DGFC’s research assistant Mohd Shah Fitri Bin Rosli.

“It was a very healthy male, weighing 24.75 kg,” noted Evans.

“We named him Cakar for “storm” and he is the fourth male collared in the vicinity of DGFC. The last clouded leopard (a female) we collared was in August 2014. We are planning to collar more individuals along the Kinabatangan.”

Meg Evans collecting biological samples, including external parasites (ticks) from Cakar during the collaring operation, while Dr Sergio Guerrero-Sanchez is checking on the health of the animal.

“The collaring of this new male (the fourth one in the area) is part of an intensive satellite tracking programme to study the spatial ecology and habitat associations of the Sunda clouded leopard in the fragmented landscape of the Lower Kinabatangan.

“The area is dominated by palm oil plantations and highly degraded forest,” said Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of DGFC and Reader at Cardiff University, leading the programme.

“The data produced by the first four individuals collared between September 2013 and September 2014 have provided considerable insights into the landscape ecology of this elusive top carnivore and our results are currently being assessed for publication,” added Goossens.

“Last June, SWD and DGFC organized an international workshop on the Sunda clouded leopard conservation, and a Clouded Leopard Action Plan is currently being drafted.

Cakar, a gorgeous male Sunda clouded leopard, with its satellite collar, minutes before getting a reversal.

The information provided by Cakar will be extremely important for the management of the population in a fragile landscape such as the Kinabatangan floodplain.

The species is currently facing threats from hunting, pet trade and habitat loss,” concluded Goossens.

The collaring team with Cakar.

This project, focusing on research and conservation of the Sunda clouded leopard in Sabah, is mainly funded by Sime Darby Foundation.

Additional funding and support is provided by Atlanta Zoo, Houston Zoo, Recanati-kaplan Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Point Defiance Zoo, Rufford Foundation and The Clouded Leopard Project.