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Elusive Malaysian leopard caught on film

Dec. 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM   |   Comments

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A Malaysian Sunda clouded leopard, one of the world's most elusive cats, has been captured in close-up on video shot by a vacationing biologist, scientists say.

Footage of a young female leopard relaxing in the forests of Borneo is only the second time a Sunda clouded leopard has been captured on film, the BBC reported Monday.

Clouded leopards living in Southeast Asia are the smallest members of the so-called big cat family, and the Sunda clouded leopard was determined to be a distinct species in 2006.

The Sunda clouded leopard is rarely seen or photographed, but wildlife videographer and biologist Jyrki Hokkanes was in Malaysian Borneo exploring the forest at night using a flashlight when he spotted something.

"We saw an unusually big pair of eyes about 10 meters (30 feet) ahead," he said. "The eyes pointed at us and did not move and a round face was just about visible in the flashlight."

He filmed the animal for a few moments until it moved through the vegetation and disappeared.

"I knew it had been a cat," he said. "It could not have been anything other than the Sunda clouded leopard."

The future for the Sunda clouded leopard is uncertain as its forest habitat on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is being cleared at a quick pace, scientists said. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the species as vulnerable, with a total population of fewer than 10,000 mature individuals throughout its range.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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