Rare and Mysterious Bay Cat Captured on Camera in Borneo Rainforest [VIDEO]

First Posted: Nov 05, 2013 07:50 AM EST

The elusive and rarest known member of the cat family, the bay cat, was captured on camera in the Borneo rainforest.

Rare pictures of the little known wild cat with red fur and a long tail with a black and white tip were captured in the forest of Borneo by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Imperial College London.  Earlier, scientists had spotted four other endangered cat species in the same area , indicating that the logged forest is still  home to several endangered species.

The bay cat (Pardofelis badia) was listed as Endangered by the IUCN in 2002.  An adult bay cat weighs 3-4 kilograms. They are forest dependent and are highly threatened by habitat destruction. The cat's long tail carries white streaks across its underside and a small black tip, which is most often invisible due to the manner in which it curls its tail upward at the end. Across most of the ranges it is protected by the national legislation. Though scientists have not much information about the habitat of the rare and mysterious bay cat, they believe it is at a high risk of extinction due to loss of habitat in  Borneo in the Malaysian province of Sabah.

Till date the motion sensitive camera traps in Borneo forests have recorded the bay cat (Pardofelis badia) very few times. Last it was photographed in 2003 in the wild.

"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," Dr Robert Ewers from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London said in a statement. "Conservationists used to assume that relatively few wild animals can live in logged forest, but we now know this land can be home for many endangered species. Our study today shows solid evidence that even top carnivores, such as these magnificent bay cats, can survive in commercially logged forests."

The cats were captured during the SAFE project that aimed at understanding the impact of logging on the lives of animals in tropical forests. The project that covered 8000 hectares of forest was led by Dr. Ewers.

Apart from the bay cat the four other species captured were the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diradi), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), flat headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) and marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata). Apart from the leopard cat, the ICUN has listed all these species as threatened and vulnerable.

Oliver Wearn, SL and Imperial College London PhD researcher said, "The cameras record multiple sightings, sometimes of species which we might be very lucky to see even after spending years in an area. I've seen the clouded leopard just twice in three years of fieldwork, whilst my cameras recorded 14 video sequences of this enigmatic cat in just eight months."

Click Here to take a look at the rare bay cat footage.

The details of the sightings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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