project news

Rare Cat Reappears

News item submitted by Flora O'Brien
News item dated 5 Jan 2011

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The extremely rare Bornean Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia) has been sighted in Pulong Tau National Park in Borneo.  Camera traps captured three photos of the cat, which is the size of a large domestic cat with a very long tail. The cats have either chestnut red, or bluish grey fur.  Bay cats are an endangered species according to the IUCN Red List, and were actually believed to have been extinct for most of the twentieth century until they were rediscovered in 1992.  The first photograph of a live Bornean Bay Cat was published by the BBC Wildlife Magazine just 13 years ago.

As a forest dependent cat, P. badia is extremely vulnerable to population declines as a result of deforestation and habitat loss. The Bay Cat is only found in Borneo, where oil palm plantations and commercial logging are widespread activities, with little in the way of law enforcement to prevent it. It has been predicted that if the current rate of forest clearance continues, then less than a third of the original forest cover will remain by 2020.  Furthermore, bay cats are illegally hunted and poached for their skins and the pet trade despite being protected under national legislation.  Consequently, it is predicted that the Bornean Bay Cat population will decline by more than 20% over the next twenty years.

 

The first image of a Bay cat captured by a camera trap

 

As this cat has never been studied, the new photos provide conservationists with hope that we may yet have a chance to learn more about this beautiful felid.  The news also highlights the importance of national parks in conserving the habitats of rare species such as the Bay cat. 

The Osa Peninsula, where the Frontier Costa Rica project is based, is part of a vast network of protected areas protected areas.  The Peninsula is home to several big cat species, such as pumas and jaguars.