Action plan to protect clouded leopard to start in 2018

KOTA KINABALU: A 10-year action plan to protect the Sunda clouded leopard is likely to be implemented in 2018.

According to Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens at the closing of a three-day workshop on how to protect the species yesterday, they will be preparing the draft skeleton on the action plan and will be submitting the final draft to the Sabah Wildlife Department which will then be presented to the State Government for endorsement.

“We are likely to launch it by 2018,” he said.

He added that their objective is to ensure the clouded leopard continued to exist in years to come and are preserved.

At the same time, he also hoped that the public would become more aware of the clouded leopard, which is presently the least known cat in the world.

He added that Sabah has five wild cats, one of which was the clouded leopard.

“It is the biggest cat in Borneo,” he said.

Benoit also said that it was imperative that Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) continued on with their enforcement activities as the cats were vulnerable to illegal hunters and poachers.

Among the recommendations made during the workshop were the study on the impact of domestic dogs and cats that were brought in by hunters to the jungle, on the clouded leopards.

It was mentioned that the domestic dogs and cats could transmit diseases and potentially harm the wild cats.

It was also recommended that the capacity of the enforcement officers be increased, and for better trans-boundary collaboration to take place to stop illegal hunting from happening.

Also emphasized is the need for increased education programmes, particularly for school children at rural areas.

In addition, a small conservation centre will also be set up at the Lok Kawi zoo to house clouded leopards that have been confiscated, said Dr Benoit.

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) enforcement head Mohd Soffian Abu Bakar said that he will be heading a small secretariat that will ensure the smooth progression of the action plan.

“The secretariat will gauge the progress,” he said.

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