Monday, May 25, 2009

Clouded Leopard Storybook Update

After several years in the making, the bilingual (Thai/English) storybook, The Clouded Leopard's Secret, is nearing completion. Artist Heather Hudson has just a few more pieces to complete before we turn the project over to the graphic designer to complete the layout. After printing the book will be piloted in Thailand before wider distribution. We also plan to print a Malaysian version right away for use in Sabah, Borneo in conjunction with the Borneo Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project supported by the CLP. We look forward to learning how students in clouded leopard range countries respond to the messages in the book!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 Clouded Leopard Project Grants

The Clouded Leopard Project has provided grant funding for the following research and conservation projects for 2009. We are pleased to support these important efforts to learn more about and protect clouded leopards and the other rare small cats that share their range. We will add profiles of the new projects to the website in the near future.

Bornean Wild Cat & Clouded Leopard Project
Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross, Global Canopy Programme, Principal Investigators

Consequences of different forest management strategies for clouded leopards and other felids and viverrids in Sabah, Malaysia
Andreas Wilting, Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research, Principal Investigator

Conservation Genetics of Threatened and Endangered Bornean Wild Cats in Sabah, Malaysia
Daniel Pamin, Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, University Malaysia Sabah

A comparison of the abundance of medium- and large-mammals within a primary rainforest and palm oil plantation of Borneo
Nathan Roberts, University of Cumbria

Effects of Fragmentation, Habitat Conversion, and Hunting on Clouded Leopard Abundance and Distribution in East Kalimantan
Rustam, Tropical Rainforest Research Center, Mulawarman University and Anthony J. Giordano, S.P.E.C.I.E.S, Principal Investigators

Southeast Asia Wild Cat Education Initiative PeunPa Outreach Staff Funding, Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, Thailand

Status, distribution and ecology of small wild cats in Assam, India with a focus on the clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa as the flagship species
Dr. Jimmy Borah and Dr. Karabi Deka, Alliance for Research and Conservation of Wild (ARCW), Principal Investigators

Sunday, May 17, 2009

IUCN Cat Specialist Group Project of the Month

Congratulations go to Andreas Wilting and Azlan Mohamed and their field team for having their project featured as Project of the Month on the IUCN Cat Specialist Group website. Their project, supported by the CLP and also featured on our website, focuses on comparing different forest management strategies on felid populations in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Be sure and check out the story!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Clouded Leopard Summit Report
The report from the Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Summit convened in January is now available. Visit the main Clouded Leopard Project website and check under Conservation and Research section or use this link to download the full report.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan Meeting

The annual Felid TAG conference includes meetings of several Species Survival Plans(SSPs), the AZA programs responsible for managing the populations of rare animals in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. This year's conference included meetings of the Clouded Leopard, Lion, and Ocelot SSPs. The Clouded Leopard SSP meeting lasted about six hours and included a wide variety of presentations as well as a planning session to manage reproduction within the population in both North America and the Thailand breeding program (whose cats are included in the SSP.) I'll be updating the main website with some of the new zoo-based projects which primarily focus on continuing to enhance reproduction of these challenging cats.

In the meantime, here's a brief overview of what's new in zoo-based clouded leopard conservation:

Heather DeCaluwe, a student at the University of Maryland, is working with researchers at the National Zoo on determining ways to characterize and control male aggression in an effort to mitigate some of the issues that make it so difficult to form new pairs of clouded leopards.

Despite many years of research, ongoing successful artificial insemination in clouded leopards is still out of reach. (The only success was in 1992.) Therefore, scientists working on this topic are now branching out to pursue in vitro reproduction. This process will use eggs and sperm from donor cats to attempt to create embryos that would then be implanted into cats for gestation. Rebecca Hobbs will be undertaking the first steps of this research through the National Zoo. She will use donor clouded leopards from a number of zoos around the country for the first IVF study in an attempt to create embryos. (None will be implanted in the first stage of the study.) Using IVF will allow genetically valuable unpaired females and older females to have the potential of still contributing to the breeding population. This technique has ralready resulted in live offspring in tigers, servals, caracals, and other species so will hopefully be successful for clouded leopards as well!

In addition to the discussion of assisted reproduction, meeting participants also spent a great deal of time examining the status and genetic lineage of the individual animals in the population to determine the possibility of creating new pairs. We also worked on determining how to pair the numerous cubs born in Thailand, many of which share the same lineage - a situation that presents many challenges. After much work, a plan was created that will hopefully benefit the entire population in the future. I'll have an update on the final plan on the website once the meeting report is published.