Five rare species of cat were photographed in a survey of a richly forested area of the Indonesian island of Sumatra that is rapidly being lost to deforestation, the conservation group WWF announced today.
The survey, conducted in an area known as Bukit Tigapuluh or Thirty Hills, captured on camera the Sumatran tiger, clouded leopard, marble cat, golden cat and leopard cat.
"Four of these species are protected by Indonesian government regulations and are listed as threatened by extinction on the IUCN Red List," said Karmila Parakkasi, coordinator of the WWF-Indonesia Tiger Research Team. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is a list that rates the extinction risk of species across the globe based on a set of criteria.
All of the wild cats were found in an unprotected forest corridor between the Bukit Tigapuluh forest landscape and the Rimbang Baling Wildlife sanctuary in Riau Province. The area is threatened by encroachment and forest clearance for industrial plantations.
"This underscores the rich biodiversity of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape and the forest corridors that connect to it. These amazing cat photos also remind us of how much we could lose as more of these fragile forests are lost to logging, plantations and illegal encroachment," Parakkasi said.
The survey took a three-month systematic sampling along the corridor and gathered 404 photos of wild cats, including 226 of Sumatran tigers, 77 of clouded leopards, 70 of golden cats, four of marbled cats and 27 of leopard cats. [ See video of the cats.]
"The abundant evidence of these five wild cat species suggests that the concession licenses of companies operating in these areas, such as Barito Pacific, should be reviewed and adjusted according to Indonesian Ministry regulations, which state that concession areas with the presence of endangered species should be protected by the concessionaire," said Aditya Bayunanda WWF-Indonesia's coordinator for the Global Forest Trade Network Programme. "WWF-Indonesia has also called on protection for areas bordering Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, either by expanding the park or managing it under the current forest ecosystem restoration scheme."
Bukit Tigapuluh is one of six landscapes the government of Indonesia pledged to protect at last year's International Tiger Forum, or Tiger Summit, of world leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Video of tiger cubs playing with a leaf taken from the same area was released by WWF in May 2011.