Yet more felids: the Javan leopard

May 23, 2013 • 2:49 pm

by Greg Mayer

We’ve noted a number of times here on WEIT the great things that have been done using camera traps to survey rare and endangered species, especially felids. Age Kridalaksana of the Center for International Forestry Research has gotten pictures and produced a video of his successful search for the Javan leopard, Panthera pardus melas (see also the video on conservation challenges in Indonesia). He got photos of three leopards, one of which was melanic. The  Javan population is thought to be about 250 adults.

Javan leopard, Panthera pardus melas, by Age Kriskalana
Javan leopard, Panthera pardus melas, by Age Kridalaksana.

The large mammals of the big Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo are very interesting biogeographically. At the peak of the last glaciation, all of these islands (which lie on the continental shelf) were united to the mainland  (see previous WEIT coverage on this here), so at that time large mammals could wander across all three islands. As the waters rose from the melting glaciers and the lands were cut off, species went extinct on the newly forming islands. It’s not easy to predict where a given species would survive. For the three big cats, each has a different distribution pattern: the leopard only on Java, the tiger on Sumatra and Java (and Bali), and the clouded leopard on Sumatra and Borneo. There are old stories of tigers on Borneo, but specimens can be obtained from the other islands by trade, so its survival there into historic times has never been verified.

As might be expected given its isolation from the main range on the mainland, the Javan leopard is a genetically well marked subspecies (see reference below).

h/t Mongabay


Banks, E.A. 1931. A popular account of the mammals of Borneo. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 9(2):1-139.

Uphyrkina, O., W.E. Johnson, H. Quigley, D. Miquelle, L. Marker, M. Bush and S.J. O’Brien. 2001. Phylogenetics, genome diversity and origin of modern leopard, Panthera pardus. Molecular Ecology 10:2617–2633. (pdf)

Caturday Felids

November 19, 2011 • 6:18 am

by Greg Mayer

Alert reader Dominic has sent me a link to EarthSky, which features camera trap photos of five species of cats from the island of Sumatra. The  photos, taken by WWF-Indonesia, are further discussed at the WWF site. Here’s one of my favorites, a marbled cat, who seems to have noticed the camera, and isn’t entirely pleased:

Sumatran marbled cat

This clouded leopard, doesn’t just look unpleased, it’s taking action:

Sumatran clouded leopard

The pictures were taken in an area threatened with deforestation, and WWF is urging that the area be protected. Interestingly, of 404 cat photos, 226 were of  tigers; the rarest, at 4, was the marbled cat. We’ve had occasion previously to note here at WEIT the great use being made of camera traps for the study of rare and hard-to-see cats. The other species photographed are the tiger, Asiatic golden cat, and leopard cat (species account links are from the IUCN Cat Specialist Group). Bravo to WWF-Indonesia!