International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

News From The Field: Small Carnivores of The Maliau Basin, Sabah, Borneo

The first camera-trapping study in the Maliau Basin Conservation Area of Malaysian Borneo, an area containing some of the last intact rainforest in Southeast Asia, detected 13 small carnivore species. From January to May 2010, we accumulated 2,915 trap nights across our entire study region.

Camera traps were deployed in three habitats; primary (unlogged) lowland rainforest, logged lowland forest and tropical health kerangas (low, uniform canopy, with thick underbrush and rich growth of moss and epiphytes) forest. Cameras detected more small carnivore species in primary forest than in logged forest. The Malay Civet was the small carnivore detected the most often, followed by the Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Banded Palm Civet and mongooses. Marbled cats were detected three times, and the Flat-headed cat only once.

The Malay CivetĀ  and Leopard Cat appeared to be predominantly nocturnal and crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), while mongooses were more diurnal. We did not detect Malay Civet or Leopard cat in logged forest, yet other studies suggest they are common in disturbed areas.

Several records could help illuminate the natural history of little-known Bornean small carnivores. The sole Flat-headed cat record was from 782 m, whereas most records for this species come from below 100 m. The Banded Palm Civet was detected much more often than Common Palm Civet, which contrasts with other study sites.

The different forest types seem likely to hold somewhat different small carnivores. One site stood out as particularly rich in small carnivore species. It was in primary forest but very near the expansive kerangas forest on the southern plateau.

This high species richness of small carnivore species in the Maliau Basin highlights the importance of this site, as well as other little-disturbed rainforest ecosystems, for rainforest mammal conservation.

Source: Brodie, Jedediah and Giordano, Anthony; Small Carnivore Conservation, Vol 44: 1-6 June 2011

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