Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On the Track of Wild Cats
Andy and Jo are also conducting camera trapping studies, but we observed another facet of their research - using telemetry to track radio-collared cats through the forest. Andy, Jo, and their team are currently following the movements of five collared leopard cats. This is a daunting task as Danum's topography consists of steep ridgelines and sharply falling valleys - causing collar signals to bounce around and sometimes vanish even if a cat is nearby. The best locations for gaining a signal are up high, so we accompanied the team to several spectacular locations with views of repeating ridges of rainforest stretching far into the distance. From these elevated perches the faint beeping of a leopard cat's signal could sometimes be heard. If so, the team would enter the signal's bearing on their GPS unit and off we'd go, trying to get another signal in a different location in order for the bearing lines to cross and allow a fix on the cat's position. The team also took us in search of the signal from a female clouded leopard they captured and collared last fall. They lost her signal in March, but haven't given up hope that they may find her once again. The collar could have failed or she may have just moved on to an area beyond the reach of Andy and Jo's antenna.

Although we couldn't see the clouded leopard or other cats we stalked, it was a thrill knowing we were sharing the same forest with the cats that mean so much to us and we work so hard to protect. This experience has really reinforced our gratitude for the support we receive from all of you to ensure the survival of clouded leopards and other cats that share their forest homes.

We have also been very pleased to witness the extreme dedication of the CLP-supported scientists first-hand. Their professional approach and commitment to learning more about Borneo's cats to enhance conservation efforts is especially amazing given the challenging field conditions of the region (leech photos to come!) I'm really looking forward to sharing many of the photos of these dedicated researchers in action so check back here next week!


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