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Conservation and Ecology of Four Sympatric Felid Species In Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia

Indonesia has one of the highest diversities of plants and animals in the world and nine of the eleven felid species present in Southeast Asia are found in Indonesia. Yet, Indonesia now leads the world in the number of threatened and endangered mammal and bird species, with new species constantly added to the list. The biggest factor driving the disappearance of wildlife in Indonesia is large-scale habitat loss and degradation. The country is losing its forests at the fastest rate of any nation in the world. In Sumatra alone, nearly 3.1 million hectares of forest were lost in the past decade, and lowland forests have all but disappeared. In the face of continued habitat loss and fragmentation, and a continually increasing human population, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we have to gain some knowledge of these species on Sumatra in order to create effective conservation initiatives, else we risk losing them for good. The present project was initiated to gain such information on small felids in Sumatra. There were three elements to our study: camera trapping, live trapping, and an analysis of human-felid conflict. The camera trapping portion of our study allowed the examination of the distribution, habitat preferences, and activity patterns of small felids on Sumatra. This is the first such information on these species from anywhere in their range and is invaluable to managers as they prioritize habitats for conservation. Our study was the first to attempt live trapping and collaring of small felid species in Sumatra, and one of a very few which had been conducted in the tropical forests of Asia. We were able to capture and collar the first golden cat ever collared in Indonesia, and only the third in the world. The information gained from tracking her movement once again provides invaluable information on the ecology of this species in Sumatra. Finally, we conducted surveys of human-small felid conflict around BBSNP. Prior to our study, human conflict with small felids was not thought to be a major factor in their conservation in Southeast Asia because it was rarely reported to governmental officials. Our study is the first in Southeast Asia to characterize this conflict and its effect on the conservation of small felids in Sumatra. We also assessed the efficacy of simple education and mitigation techniques in reducing conflict, creating a successful model that can be replicated throughout the species range. Overall, this study provides valuable knowledge on the Sunda clouded leopard, the Asiatic golden cat, the marbled cat, and the leopard cat, generating information which may be used for their more effective conservation in Sumatra.
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