After dropping off my son at the Tawau Hills Park front gate for his holiday nature study project, I proceed to office in Merotai Town to be in time for work. While rushing down the slop curve after the Bukit Gemok Forest Reserve, I spotted at right hand road side a dead cat ran down by vehicles. This is not an ordinary house car. Its bright orange body color and black spots reminded me of a Leopard Cat I saw 4 years ago. After a few seconds of hesitation I decided to turn the car back to the spot and took several snap shots. Not contended with my identification, I carried the cat into my car to the office for a closer look.
Its a Leopard Cat.
The Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a small wild cat of South and East Asia.
Since 2002 it has been listed as Least Concern by IUCN as it is widely distributed but threatened by habitat loss and hunting in parts of its range.
Leopard Cat is not a near relative to Leopard. Leopard cat's name is derived from the leopard-like spots appearance.
There are twelve leopard cat subspecies.
This wild cat found by the side of Merotai Road is 54cm from head to tip of tail. A young female. By pressing the stomach, I can feel the cat stomach is empty. Likely hunger forced her to wonder out her field into the road where met her ill fate.
A kilometer away the road is Bukit Gemok Forest Reserve. Between the road and the Reserve are oil palm plantations. Endless stretch of oil palm plantations along Merotai Road continued by Kalabakan Road.
Leopard Cat is common seen in oil palm plantations.
Scientific name:Prionailurus bengalensis
Common name:Leopard cat
Distribution: Ussuri region of southeastern Siberia, Manchuria, Korea, Quelpart and Tsushima islands (between Korea and Japan) most of China, east of Tibet, Pakistan to Indochina, Taiwan, Hainan, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Borneo, Malay Peninsula, several islands in the western and central Philippines.
Leopard Cat is adaptable to deforestation compared to other wild cats and is often found near villages.
The tropical rainforests of Borneo Island have five species of wild cat:
1) Bornean Bay Cat - endangered species
2) Clouded leopard
3) Flat-headed cat
4) Marbled cat
5) Leopard cat
Bornean Wild Cat Project : http://www.wildaboutcats.org/borneo.htm
Wild Cat Clouded Leopard Project : http://www.cloudedleopard.org/default.aspx?link=borneo_bwccl