The internet is all about cats, and now one of the world’s rarest has its photograph going viral after being was photographed by a camera trap set up by two British zoologists.
The sightings offer hope that even the destructive effects of rainforest logging can't get the better of these resourceful wildcats.
There are only 2,500 Borneo Bay Cats believed to exist, their natural habitat on the three-nation island of Borneo threatened by aggressive commercial logging. But the Pardofelis badia captured on film by Robert Ewers of London’s Imperial College proves that cats can survive even in areas where natural forestation has been decimated by loggers.
"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 Ewers, quoted in The Guardian. “Conservationists used to assume that very few wild animals could live in logged forest, but we now know this land can be home for many endangered species."
Along with the ultra-elusive Bay Cat, the 135 cameras set up by Ewers and grad student Oliver Wearn on the Malaysian-controlled northern region of the world’s third-largest island also caught images of four other species of endangered cats.
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That's the Bay Cat in the photo above. See more images of the reclusive feline in the video below.
Malaysia splits jurisdiction over Borneo with Brunei and Indonesia. Borneo is the only place where the Bay Cat is known to live.
The Bay Cat is so scarce that it was classified as extinct until being caught on film in 2009 and 2010.
This time, the scientists’ cameras recorded for an average of 49 nights each, giving the researchers at total of 6,650 nights to work with.
“The cameras record multiple sightings, sometimes of species which we might be very lucky to see even after spending years in an area,” said Wearn. The large amount of images recorded turned up the highly secretive, nocturnal Bay Cat.
The Pardofelis badia is typically not much bigger than a house cat. They tend to be about two feet long and weigh less than nine pounds, but with long tails measuring about 14 inches.
"Our study today shows solid evidence that even large carnivores, such as these magnificent bay cats, can survive in commercially logged forests," Ewers said.
SOURCES: The Guardian, National Geographic, Science Daily