#LoveSpecies nominee: Borneo bay cat
Nominated by: S.P.E.C.I.E.S
Why do you love it?
The rather small bay cat, or red cat, might be the biggest mystery of the entire cat world. This mystery is almost equalled by its native home, the island of Borneo, to which the bay cat is restricted. But as go the rainforests of Borneo, so goes the bay cat and the island’s other unique inhabitants. I am fascinated by the bay cat because it IS the face of Borneo; only the protection of the island’s rainforests will lead to a future for the bay cat. And I think about it so much because we all know so little – a very big mystery in a very small cat!
What are the threats to the bay cat?
The bay cat is probably the rarest of the world’s 37 cat species. It occurs at a lower density than tigers, clouded leopards, and snow leopards, some of the world’s most recognisable big cats. Overall it has only ever been recorded in the wild a few dozen times. So little is known about the bay cat actually, that it is difficult to know what the single greatest threat to its survival is. However, conversion of Borneo’s forests into oil palm plantations, legal and illegal logging, indiscriminate hunting with snares, and increased competition with other felids through habitat degradation are probably among the biggest threats to bay cat populations.
What are you doing to save it?
S.P.E.C.I.E.S. and its partners are among only a handful of organisations to have successfully recorded the bay cat across different sites on Borneo. We also contributed to the development of the first ever conservation planning model for the bay cat, one that integrates all of the scientific community’s records for the purposes of identifying habitats and regions of potentially great importance to bay cats.
Currently, we are planning new activities focused on learning more about the bay cat’s distribution and habitat needs, as well as a program to reduce likely threats to its survival; we will be conducting surveys and community outreach campaigns in new areas, working to reduce habitat conversion inside and outside of protected areas and removing snares where intensive hunting is negatively impacting mammal populations.