A plea is going out from a top wildlife charity to protect an Indonesian forest where five rare wild cats have been seen. Sumatran tigers, marble cats, golden cats, clouded leopards and leopard cats have been pictured on the island of Sumatra, says WWF-Indonesia.
The wild cats that are threatened with extinction were caught on camera in the Bukit Tigapuluh or Thirty Hills forest area at risk from large-scale clearance.
Karmila Parakkasi, the WWF-Indonesia Tiger Research Team Coordinator, says, "Four of these species are protected by Indonesian Government regulations and are listed as threatened by extinction on the IUCN Red List. This underscores the rich biodiversity of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape and the forest corridors that connect to it.
Golden cat; © WWF-Indonesia-PHKA
"These amazing cat photos also remind us of how much we could lose as more of these fragile forests are lost to logging, plantations and illegal encroachment."
WWF-Indonesia is calling on industry and key authorities to help save the forest, which is rich in biodiversity.
In just three months, more than 400 photos of wild cats were taken featuring 226 Sumatran tigers, 77 clouded leopards, 70 golden cats, 27 leopard cats and four marbled cats. In addition, in May, video was taken of three tiger cubs playing.
Aditya Bayunanda WWF-Indonesia's Coordinator for the Global Forest Trade Network Programme, says, "Unfortunately much of the natural forest area in the landscape is threatened by large scale clearance for industrial logging, pulp and paper, as well as illegal encroachment for palm oil plantation development.
Clouded leopard; © WWF-Indonesia-PHKA
"The abundant evidence of these five wild cat species suggests that the concession licenses of companies operating in these areas, such as Barito Pacific, should be reviewed and adjusted according to Indonesian Ministry regulations, which state that concession areas with the presence of endangered species should be protected by the concessionaire."
He also called for areas around the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park to be expanded or protected with special management.
Zulkifli Hasan, the Indonesian Minister of Forestry, backed the idea of a forest ecosystem restoration scheme at a WWF event in Jakarta in early November.
The area is already a "global priority Tiger Conservation Landscape" and the Indonesian government promised to protect it at the 2010 International Tiger Forum, attended by world leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Most big cats are found in the forest corridor between Rimbang Baling and Bukit Tigapuluh, surveys have found.