Leopard Cat Project

Project Description

Home ranging, movement and activity patterns of leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) in the Kinabatangan floodplain

Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) – IUCN/Red list status: Least Concern

MSc Candidate: Amanda Wilson

Supervisors: Henry Bernard, Benoit Goossens,

Additional supervision: Sergio Guerrero Sánchez, Liesbeth Frias, Macarena González

University/institute: Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah

Duration: February 2020 – February, 2022

Research questions:

  1. What is the home range of leopard cats in the Kinabatangan floodplain?
  2. What are the activity patterns and habitat preferences of leopard cats in the Kinabatangan floodplain?
  3. What are the variables that influence on the movement and activity patterns of leopard cats in the Kinabatangan floodplain?

Research overview:

The Leopard Cat Project aims to better understand the ecology of this species.

The leopard cat is small wild cat species which is a habitat generalist and being adaptable and having the widest range of all wild cats, leopard cats in Sabah are common unlike populations in certain countries. This project aims to look into how such a resilient species uses different habitats as they are able to survive in both forested as well as plantation areas. By deploying GPS collars, assessing their habitat and remote sensing, the project hopes to better understand their behaviour through monitoring their movement particularly in the use of a fragmented landscape. The importance of different habitats in serving their niche will be studied besides elucidating the possible influence of certain variables towards the spatial dynamics of the leopard cats in a modified habitat or setting. Also, due to their range, the leopard cats are perfect model species to study the health of the Bornean wild cat population as their range may overlap with that of domestic cats and more vulnerable felids such as the flat-headed cats. This project is also supporting the Health at the Edge Project which aims to study the transmission of pathogens in anthropogenic landscapes.

In the long run, the project also aims to understand the long-term effect of forest fragmentation/depletion to their range and population. With the results of this project, we expect to provide the Sabah Wildlife Department with vital information on leopard cat ecology for the ‘The Kinabatangan Small Carnivore Project’. The project is also hopeful in collaborating with non-government bodies, specifically oil palm companies, through providing novel information for an improved management of wildlife in plantation areas and landscape configuration.