Rare cat species spotted in Borneo

The bay cat was first photographed only in 2003. Scientists estimate that there are just 2,500 adults remaining in the wild. 

Oliver Wearn / SAFE Project
The bay cat, or Bornean marble cat, has only been recorded on video a handful of times before and was only first photographed in 2003.

Several rare and endangered bay cats were spotted on camera in a heavily logged section of rainforest in Borneo, where scientists didn't expect to find them, a group of researchers announced today (Nov. 4).

The bay cat, or Bornean marbled cat, has only been recorded on video a handful of times before and was only first photographed in 2003, according to a release from the Zoological Society of London and Imperial College London, whose scientists set up the cameras.

In the same area where the bay cats were found, in the northern Borneo, cameras also captured four other cat species, making it one of only four spots where all of these species have been recorded. The four other cat species were the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) and marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata). Three out of four of these species are considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"We were completely surprised to see so many bay cats at these sites in Borneo where natural forests have been so heavily logged for the timber trade," said Robert Ewers, an Imperial College London researcher, in the statement. [Watch: Cameras Spot Rare Bay Cats in Borneo]

Very little is known about Borneo bay cats because they are shy and have low population densities, according to the IUCN. However, scientists estimate there are fewer than 2,500 adults remaining in the wild, and that their population will decline by 20 percent in the next 12 years due to deforestation in Borneo, the IUCN reported.

Unlike other camera traps that are often set up at strategic locations, these were placed at random locations, which apparently helped to spot the endangered cats.

"We discovered that randomly placed cameras have a big influence on the species recorded," said Oliver Wearn, a researcher at the Zoological Society of London. "This is something I was taught in school — I remember doing a project on which plant species were most abundant on our playing field, and being taught to fling quadrats [a geometric tool used to define a study area] over my shoulder in a random direction before seeing what plants lay within it, rather than placing it somewhere that looked like a good place to put it — the same principle applies here."

Email Douglas Main or follow him on Twitter or Google+. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook or Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Rare cat species spotted in Borneo
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/1105/Rare-cat-species-spotted-in-Borneo
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe