Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Like the mainland clouded leopard, Diard's clouded leopard has impressive tree climbing abilities, and is capable of running head-first down tree trunks, climbing about on the underside of branches, and hanging upside down by its hind feet with the tail providing balance. The ability to climb trees allows it to forage for food in the canopy although it mainly uses the tree branches for resting (5). Interestingly, it appears to spend less time in the trees in regions where tigers and leopards are absent (1). It was originally thought that the long canines were for preying on large ungulates (7), though recent studies show that this species feeds on a variety of terrestrial and arboreal prey including proboscis monkeys, grey leaf monkeys, young sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer, bearded pigs, palm civets, fish and porcupines (1). Prey is either stalked on the ground or ambushed from above (6) (9). Clouded leopards are believed to be solitary, except when breeding or accompanied by cubs (10). Most information about clouded leopard reproduction comes from captive individuals (6), but as these generally comprise the mainland species, very little is known about the reproductive biology of Diard's clouded leopard (3).
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Description

Previously considered to be a subspecies of the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Diard's clouded leopard has recently been recognised as a distinct species. Aside from genetic and anatomical differences (3) (4), Diard's clouded leopard can be recognised by its darker, grey or greyish-yellow fur and smaller cloud-like markings (3). These markings, from which the common name is derived, comprise ellipses partially edged in black, with the insides a darker colour than the background colour of the pelt (5). The limbs and underbelly are marked with large black ovals, and the back of the neck is conspicuously marked with two black bars (6). The thickly-furred tail is exceptionally long, often equivalent to the body length, and is boldly marked with black rings (5). Well adapted to forest life, Diard's clouded leopard has stout legs and broad paws, which make it excellent at climbing trees and creeping through thick forest (2). Perhaps the most remarkable feature of clouded leopards is that, in proportion to their body size, they possess the largest canines of all the cats (7) and Diard's clouded leopard has, on average, even larger and more knife-like canines than Neofelis nebulosa (4). Indeed, although they are considered to be of an unrelated evolutionary lineage, clouded leopards have independently evolved teeth and jaws that are remarkably similar to the primitive members of the extinct group of sabretoothed cats, such as the 8-10 million year-old, puma-sized Paramachairodus from Europe and Asia (8).
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Distribution

Range Description

The Sunda clouded leopard is probably restricted to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo (Buckley-Beason et al. 2006, Kitchener et al. 2007, Wilting et al. 2007a,b, Eizirik et al. submitted). It is unknown if there are still Sunda clouded leopards on the small Batu Islands close to Sumatra. There are clouded leopard fossils from Java (Meijaard 2004), but none in modern times. Although the Sunda region includes the Malay peninsula , Kitchener et al. (2007), on the basis of a small sample of skins, ascribed clouded leopards from the Malay peninsula to the mainland species, Neofelis nebulosa.

The map shows range within forest cover (European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2003) to reflect patchiness caused by deforestation upon recommendation of the assessors (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007).

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Range

Diard's clouded leopard is believed to be restricted to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo (1).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
On Sumatra it appears to be more abundant in hilly, montane areas, whereas on Borneo it also occurs in lowland rainforest (perhaps because there are no tigers on Borneo). It is forest-dependent, and does not go deep into plantations (oil palm, etc), although it can be found, perhaps at lower density, in logged forest. Records on Borneo are below 1,500 m. Occurs higher in Sumatra (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).

On Sumatra the Sunda clouded leopard occurs most probably in much lower densities (1.29/100 km²: Hutajulu et al. 2007) than on Borneo (6.4/100 km²: A. Hearn and J. Ross pers. comm. 2007 - 9/100 km²: Wilting et al. 2006). One explanation for this lower density might be that on Sumatra the clouded leopard co-occurs sympatric with the tiger, whereas on Borneo the clouded leopard is the largest carnivore

From local hunters, Rabinowitz et al. (1987) collected reports of clouded leopards with kills of a wide variety of prey, including young sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer, bearded pig, palm civet, gray leaf monkey, fish and porcupine.

It is strongly arboreal. Holden (2001) found that the encounter rate for clouded leopards increased significantly when camera traps were set along narrow ridges or in places where animals would have difficulty moving arboreally. In level or undulating terrain clouded leopards were seldom if ever photographed, suggesting that the species does move about in trees, although from tracks they are known to travel along logging roads and trails (Holden 2001, Gordon and Stewart 2007). Clouded leopards may be less arboreal on Borneo (Rabinowitz et al. 1987) than in other areas where tigers and leopards are sympatric.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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A forest-dwelling species, Diard's clouded leopard is most abundant in hilly, montane areas of rainforest on Sumatra, but may also be found in lowland rainforest on Borneo. Small numbers may occur in areas of logged forest and around the outskirts of oil-palm plantations (1).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
C2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Sunarto, Sanderson, J. & Wilting, A.

Reviewer/s
Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Santiapillai and Ashby (1988) found confirmed evidence for clouded leopards in six areas comprising just 3% of Sumatra's land area. Density in one of these areas (the Tesso Nilo - Bukit Tigapuluh Conservation Landscape) was estimated at 1.6 adults per 100 km² by camera trapping (Hutujulu et al. 2007), much lower than densities found on Borneo, probably in part due to its sympatry with the larger Sumatran tiger, whereas on Borneo there are no larger felid competitors. Clouded leopards are forest-dependent, and a continuing decline is suspected due to high deforestation rates, occurring outside protected areas (3.2-5.9%/yr: Achard et al. 2002, FWI/GFW 2001, Uryu et al. 2007), but also, to a lesser extent, inside protected areas (Gaveau et al. 2007, Kinnaird et al. 2003, Linkie et al. 2004). With a fragmented, low density population, the effective population size of the Sumatran clouded leopard is probably less than 2,500 mature individuals, with no subpopulation having an effective population size greater than 250 mature individuals (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hearn, A., Sanderson, J., Ross, J., Wilting, A. & Sunarto, S.

Reviewer/s
Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
The Sunda clouded leopard is forest-dependent, and its habitat on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is undergoing the world's highest deforestation rates (over 10% of lowland forest was lost in the past ten years) (Rautner et al. 2005, FAO 2007). Expansion of oil palm plantations is the most urgent threat: Malaysia and Indonesia have risen to become the world's largest producers of palm oil (Koh and Wilcove 2007). The species occurs at low densities (Wilting et al. 2006; A. Hearn and J. Ross pers. comm. 2007), particularly on the island of Sumatra (Hutujulu et al. 2007) and its total effective population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (1). Subspecies: Neofelis diardi borneensis and Neofelis diardi diardi are both listed as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Population

Population
Wilting et al. (2006) estimated a rough clouded leopard density of about 9 individuals per 100 km², derived from classification of individual tracks in a study area of Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Their preliminary landscape analysis confirmed the presence of clouded leopards in 25% of Sabah?s surface, but only a small fraction of these areas are classified as totally protected forest reserves. As a first working hypothesis Wilting et al. (2006) extrapolated, based on their densities from Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the potential number of clouded leopards in Sabah to be 1,500-3,200 individuals. However, they pointed out that this number most likely overestimates the true number.

Based on a different methodology (camera traps), Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross (unpubl. 2007) obtained a lower density in a different area of Sabah of 6.4 adults per 100 km². This suggests the Sabah population could be at the low end or even below the above population estimates.

There are no population estimates for the remainder of its range in Borneo and Sumatra, but in lowland forest in Sumatra Hutujulu et al. (2007) estimated a low density of 29 adults per 100 km², from camera traps. This suggests the population of Sumatra could be considerably lower than on Borneo.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Sumatra and Borneo are undergoing high rates of deforestation, with oil palm plantations expanding rapidly, as well as logging and clearance for agriculture and settlement (Rautner et al. 2005, FAO 2007). There is substantial illegal trade in clouded leopard skins, partially fuelled by indiscriminate use of snare traps (TRAFFIC Southeast Asia pers. comm. 2007). Holden (2001) reported that in Sumatra, clouded leopards are snared accidentally in traps set for other species, but their parts have commercial value, and seven were killed in Kerinci Seblat's National Park from 2000-2001. Reports of clouded leopard attacking livestock are rare, but do occur, with one cat known to have been shot after reportedly taking goats from an enclave village surrounded by forest.
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The principal threat to Diard's clouded leopard is the catastrophic level of deforestation that is occurring on Sumatra and Borneo as a result of logging and clearance for oil palm plantations. In addition, accidental capture in snare traps used to catch other animals, as well as deliberate poaching of this species' commercially valuable pelt are having a significant impact on its population (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
CITES Appendix I (as Neofelis nebulosa), fully protected in Sumatra and Kalimantan (Indonesia), Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia) and Brunei. It occurs in most protected areas along the Sumatran mountain spine, and in most protected areas on Borneo. More research is needed on population size and basic ecology (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007).
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Conservation

Diard's clouded leopard receives national protection in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, as well as international protection through its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (1). It also occurs in most protected areas along the Sumatran mountain spine, and in the majority of protected areas on Borneo. Nevertheless, given the severity of habitat loss within this species' range, as well as the illegal hunting that is occurring, increased protective measures are urgently required (1). The recognition of Diard's clouded leopard as a distinct species has important conservation implications, as unlike the mainland clouded leopard, there is not currently a captive breeding program in place (3). Hopefully, given its new status, efforts will be made to establish a healthy captive population.
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Wikipedia

Sunda clouded leopard

The Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), also known as the Sundaland clouded leopard, is a medium-sized wild cat found in Borneo and Sumatra. In 2006, it was classified as a separate species, distinct from its continental relative Neofelis nebulosa.[2][3]

In 2008, the IUCN classified the species as vulnerable, with a total effective population size suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, and a decreasing population trend.[1]

Previously, the species was known as the Bornean clouded leopard — a name publicised by the WWF in March 2007, quoting Dr. Stephen O'Brien of the U.S. National Cancer Institute as saying, "Genetic research results clearly indicate that the clouded leopard of Borneo should be considered a separate species".[4]

Characteristics[edit]

The Sunda clouded leopard is the largest cat in Borneo, and has a stocky build, weighing around 12 to 25 kg (26 to 55 lb). The canine teeth are two inches long, which, in proportion to the skull length, are longer than those of any other extant feline. Its tail can grow to be as long as its body, aiding balance.

Its coat is marked with irregularly-shaped, dark-edged ovals which are said to be shaped like clouds, hence its common name. Though scientists have known of its existence since the early 19th century, it was positively identified as being a distinct species in its own right in 2006, having long been believed to be a subspecies of the mainland clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).[2][3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Sunda clouded leopard is probably restricted to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In Borneo, they occur in lowland rainforest, and at lower density, in logged forest. Records in Borneo are below 1,500 m (4,900 ft). In Sumatra, they appear to be more abundant in hilly, montane areas. It is unknown if there are still Sunda clouded leopards on the small Batu Islands close to Sumatra.[1]

Between March and August 2005, tracks of clouded leopards were recorded during field research in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah. The population size in the 56 km2 (22 sq mi) research area was estimated to be five individuals, based on a capture-recapture analysis of four confirmed animals differentiated by their tracks; with a density estimated at eight to 17 individuals per 100 km2 (39 sq mi). The population in Sabah is roughly estimated at 1,500–3,200 individuals, with only 275–585 of them living in totally protected reserves that are large enough to hold a long-term viable population of more than 50 individuals.[5]

On Sumatra, Sunda clouded leopards occur most probably in much lower densities than on Borneo. One explanation for this lower density of about 1.29 individuals per 100 km2 (39 sq mi) might be that on Sumatra clouded leopards co-occur sympatrically with the tiger, whereas on Borneo clouded leopards are the largest carnivores.[6]

The first documentary video of a Sundaland clouded leopard was taken in June 2009 by a group of wildlife biologists in Sabah.[7]

Clouded leopard fossils have been found on Java, where it perhaps became extinct in the Holocene.[8]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

The habits of the Sunda clouded leopard are largely unknown because of the animal's secretive nature. It is assumed that it is generally a solitary creature. It hunts mainly on the ground and uses its climbing skills to hide from dangers.[citation needed]

Evolutionary and taxonomic history[edit]

Illustration published 1834 in William Jardine's The Natural History of The Feline

The species was named Felis diardi in honor of the French naturalist and explorer Pierre-Médard Diard by Georges Cuvier in 1823, based on a drawing and skin allegedly from Java.[9] In the 19th century Felis diardii designated both clouded and Sunda clouded leopards, colloquially "Diard's Cat".[10]

The Sunda clouded leopard was long regarded as a subspecies of the clouded leopard, and named Neofelis nebulosa diardi. The genetic analysis of hair samples of Neofelis nebulosa and Neofelis diardi implies that they diverged 1.4 million years ago, after having used a now submerged land bridge to reach Borneo and Sumatra from mainland Asia.[2]

Results of a morphometric analysis of the pelages of fifty-seven clouded leopards sampled throughout the genus' wide geographical range indicated that there are two distinct morphological groups, differing primarily in the size of their cloud markings.[3] DNA samples from the Bornean and mainland Asia populations were used in molecular genetic analyses, revealing differences in mtDNA, nuclear DNA sequences, microsatellite and cytogenetic variation. Thirty-six fixed mitochondrial and nuclear nucleotide differences, and 20 microsatellite loci with nonoverlapping allele-size ranges distinguished the populations — a degree of differentiation equivalent to, or greater than, comparable measures among the panthera species — and strongly support a species-level distinction between Neofelis nebulosa and Neofelis diardi.[2]

In December 2006, the genus Neofelis was reclassified into two distinct species:[2][3]

Molecular, craniomandibular and dental analysis indicates subspecifical distinction of Bornean and Sumatran clouded leopards into two populations with separate evolutionary histories — a Bornean subspecies Neofelis diardi borneensis and a Sumatran subspecies Neofelis diardi diardi. Both populations are estimated to have diverged from each other during the Middle to Late Pleistocene. The split of Neofelis diardi subspecies corresponds roughly with the catastrophic super-eruption of the Toba Volcano in Sumatra 69,000–77,000 years ago. A probable scenario is that Sunda clouded leopards from Borneo recolonized Sumatra during periods of low sea levels in the Pleistocene, and were later separated from their source population by rising sea levels.[11]

Threats[edit]

Deforestation in Sumatra

Sunda clouded leopards being strongly arboreal are forest-dependent, and are increasingly threatened by habitat destruction following deforestation in Indonesia as well as in Malaysia.[1] Since the early 1970s, much of the forest cover has been cleared in southern Sumatra, in particular lowland tropical evergreen forest. Fragmentation of forest stands and agricultural encroachments have rendered wildlife particularly vulnerable to human pressure.[12] Borneo has one of the world's highest deforestation rates. While in the mid-1980s forests still covered nearly three quarters of the island, by 2005 only 52% of Borneo was still forested. Both forests and land make way for human settlement. Illegal trade in wildlife is a widely spread practice.[13]

The population status of Sunda clouded leopards in Sumatra and Borneo has been estimated to decrease due to forest loss, forest conversion, illegal logging, encroachment, and possibly hunting. In Borneo, forest fires pose an additional threat, particularly in Kaltim and in the Sebangau National Park.[14]

There have been reports of poaching of Sunda clouded leopards in Brunei's Belait District where locals are selling their pelts at a lucrative price.[15]

Conservation[edit]

The species is listed on CITES Appendix I, and is fully protected in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. Sunda clouded leopards occur in most protected areas along the Sumatran mountain spine, and in most protected areas on Borneo.[1]

Since November 2006, the Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project based in the Danum Valley Conservation Area and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve aims to study the behaviour and ecology of the five species of Bornean wild cat — bay cat, flat-headed cat, marbled cat, leopard cat, and Sunda clouded leopard — and their prey, with a focus on the clouded leopard; investigate the effects of habitat alteration; increase awareness of the Bornean wild cats and their conservation needs, using the clouded leopard as a flagship species; and investigate threats to the Bornean wild cats from hunting and trade in Sabah.[16]

The Sundaland clouded leopard is one of the focal felids of the project Conservation of Carnivores in Sabah based in northeastern Borneo since July 2008. The project team evaluates the consequences of different forms of forest exploitation for the abundance and density of felids in three commercially used forest reserves. They intend to assess the conservation needs of these felids and develop species specific conservation action plans together with other researchers and all local stakeholders.[17]

Local names[edit]

The Indonesian common name for the clouded leopard rimau-dahan means "tree tiger" or "branch tiger".[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hearn, A., Sanderson, J., Ross, J., Wilting, A., Sunarto, S. (2008). "Neofelis diardi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Buckley-Beason, V.A., Johnson, W.E., Nash, W.G., Stanyon, R., Menninger, J.C., Driscoll, C.A., Howard, J., Bush, M., Page, J.E., Roelke, M.E., Stone, G., Martelli, P., Wen, C., Ling, L.; Duraisingam, R.K., Lam, V.P., O'Brien, S.J. (2006). "Molecular Evidence for Species-Level Distinctions in Clouded Leopards". Current Biology 16 (23): 2371–2376. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.08.066. PMID 17141620. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kitchener, A.C., Beaumont, M.A., Richardson, D. (2006). "Geographical Variation in the Clouded Leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, Reveals Two Species". Current Biology 16 (23): 2377–2383. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.066. PMID 17141621. 
  4. ^ "New Species Declared: Clouded Leopard found on Borneo and Sumatra". ScienceDaily. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Wilting, A., Fischer, F., Abu Bakar, S. and Linsenmair, K. E. (2006). "Clouded leopards, the secretive top-carnivore of South-East Asian rainforests: their distribution, status and conservation needs in Sabah, Malaysia". BMC Ecology 6: 16. doi:10.1186/1472-6785-6-16. PMC 1654139. PMID 17092347. 
  6. ^ Hutujulu, B., Sunarto, Klenzendorf, S., Supriatna, J., Budiman, A. and Yahya, A. (2007). Study on the ecological characteristics of clouded leopard in Riau, Sumatra. In: J. Hughes and M. Mercer (eds.) Felid Biology and Conservation: Programme and Abstracts : An International Conference, 17–20 September 2007, Oxford. Oxford University, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit
  7. ^ Mohamed, A. and Wilting, A. (2009). Sundaland clouded leopard Neofelis diardi. Filmed at Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. Conservation of Carnivores in Sabah
  8. ^ Meijaard, E. (2004). Biogeographic history of the Javan leopard Panthera pardus based on a craniometric analysis. Journal of Mammalogy 85: 302–310.
  9. ^ Cuvier, G. (1823). Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles; ou, l'on retablit les caracteres de plusiers animaux dont les revolutions du globe ont detruit les especes. Les Ruminans et les Carnassiers Fossiles, Volume IV. Paris: G. Dufour & E. d'Ocagne
  10. ^ Ripley, G. (1858). The New American Cyclopedia. D. Appleton and Company. p. 543. 
  11. ^ Wilting A., Christiansen P., Kitchener A.C., Kemp Y.J.M., Ambu L., Fickel, J. (2010). "Geographical variation in and evolutionary history of the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) with the description of a new subspecies from Borneo". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (58). doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.11.007. PMID 21074625. 
  12. ^ Gaveaua, David L.A., Wandonoc, H., Setiabudid, F. (2007). "Three decades of deforestation in southwest Sumatra: Have protected areas halted forest loss and logging, and promoted re-growth?". Biological Conservation 134 (4): 495–504. 
  13. ^ Rautner, M., Hardiono, M., Alfred, R. J. (2005), Borneo: treasure island at risk. Status of Forest, Wildlife, and related Threats on the Island of Borneo, WWF Germany 
  14. ^ Povey, K., Sunarto, H. J.G., Priatna, D., Ngoprasert, D., Reed, D., Wilting, A., Lynam, A., Haidai, I., Long, B., Johnson, A., Cheyne, S., Breitenmoser, C., Holzer, K., Byers, O. (eds.) CBSG. (2009), Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Conservation Summit Final Report., IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group: Apple Valley, MN. 
  15. ^ Shahminan, F., Begawan, B. S. (2010) Poaching threatens clouded leopards The Brunei Times, 19 December 2010.
  16. ^ Hearn, A., Ross, J. (2006). "Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project". Cat Project of the Month – November 2006. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. 
  17. ^ Wilting, A., Mohamed, A. (2009). "Consequences of different forest management strategies for felids in Sabah, Malaysia". Cat Project of the Month – May 2009. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. 
  18. ^ Horsfield, T. (1825). Description of the Rimau-Dahan of the inhabitants of Sumatra, a new species of Felis, discovered in the forests of Bencoolen, by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, late Lieutenant-Governor of Fort Marlborough. Zoological Journal of London 1: 542−554.
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