This is a photo of leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) that i took a few months ago during our visit to one of the plantation in Bintulu. I love wild cats very much and my first proposal for my project was to study the populations of wild cats in Sabah. But then i have to think it over again when my ex-lecturer in UMS told me that it is very difficult to catch this elusive animals. I do some research on other study and after think of it deeply, i decide to give up with wild cats and change to small mammals (rats, squirrels, treeshrews, shrews) and it does related with wild cat too. Why? Because small mammals is one of the food source for wild cats.
Back to the picture above. This leopard cat was kept by one of the oil palm manager at his house. His house is inside the plantation area. Based on his story, there were a few others that have been taken from the plantation area and kept by him but some of it get back to the wild and never return to his house. This in the only one that left with him at the moment. It is not tame and it keeps showing his teeth to me when i tried to get closer to him and took his photos. Actually, when the natural forest is cleared for the plantation, this animal lost their nesting habitat as all the trees is cut down. However, they do foraging inside the plantation. Based on the study that have been done by Rajaratnam in Sabah, a lot of leopard cat recorded use oil palm plantation as their foraging site. He do his study using telemetry and did follow where this animal go.
In May this year, i have a chance to assist group from UTAR to do small carnivore trapping in the tree plantation area. During the night we went for a night survey via spotlighting. We spot a few individuals of the leopard cat. It does prefer an open area with a little bit canopy to stalk for it's prey. This is what happen inside the tree plantation because some of the young acacia not having a closed canopy.
I am still in love with this unique and interesting animal and i am still hope that i can work on this animal again in near future.