Bornean Clouded Leopard Programme

Ecology and conservation of a sympatric tropical forest felid guild: the wild cats of Borneo

Sunda clouded leopards are the least known of all small/big cats and have recently been declared a new species. Additionally data also suggest the density of clouded leopards is higher on Borneo than Sumatra, perhaps due to the presence of tigers on Sumatra.

Bornean tropical forest contains a guild of five felid species: Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), bay cat (Pardofelis badia), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata), flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps), and leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).  Two are endangered, two threatened, and their presumed primary habitat is rapidly being lost and/or altered in the region.  The behavioural ecology of none is well-known, and the impact of forest destruction and management on each of these species is obscure. Conducting studies on Borneo provides the chance to study clouded leopard and small felid guild in the absence of tigers and large canids.

We are focussing our work in the Danum Valley in Malaysian Borneo and the Sabangau forest in Indonesian Borneo. Our specific goals are to (1) study the status, behaviour, ecology and conservation genetics of the five species of Bornean wild cat, with a focus on the clouded leopard, (2) investigate the effects of habitat alteration on Bornean wild cats, (3) raise capacity for felid research in Malaysia and Indonesia through the continued training of a local ecologists, (4) increase awareness of the Bornean wild cats and their conservation needs, using the clouded leopard as a flagship species, and (5) investigate threats to the Bornean wild cats from hunting and trade in Sabah and Kalimantan.  We also seek to develop our project findings within biodiversity swap/carbon credit systems, such as REDD, to which we aim to make the Sunda clouded leopard an emblem.

By focusing on Borneo where the clouded leopard is the top predator, there is an opportunity to form the hub of a clouded leopard conservation network and to make this particularly accessible to Malaysian and Indonesian scientists and conservationists.

By using remote cameras to photograph the cats, we are able to obtain photos of many other animals, increasing our understanding of the biodiveristy of these study areas.


Cheyne SM, Husson SJ, Macdonald DW, in review. First otter civet photographed in Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest, Indonesian Borneo. Small Carnivore Conservation.

Cheyne SM, Macdonald DW, in prep. Estimating the density of a clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) population in Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest, Indonesian Borneo.

Cheyne SM, Morrogh-Bernard H, Macdonald DW, 2009. First flat-headed cat photographed in Sebangau Catchment, Indonesian Borneo. Cat News.

Povey K, Howard JG, Sunarto, Priatna D, Ngoprasert D, Reed D, Wilting A, Lynam A, Haidai I, Long B, Johnson A, Cheyne SM, Breitenmoser C, Traylor-Holzer K, Byers O, 2009. Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Conservation Summit Final Report. Bangkok, Thailand: IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, MN.

Wilting A, Cord A, Hearn AJ, Hesse D, Mohamed A, Traeholdt C, Cheyne SM, Sunarto S, Azlan-Jayasilan M, Ross J, Shapiro A, Dech S, Breitenmoser C, Duckworth W, Sanderson J, Hofer H, in prep. Looking for a home for flat-headed cats; modelling the species distribution of an endangered Southeast Asian small cat species.