Marbled Cat at Mount Kinabalu (Sabah, Borneo) – a high elevation record

High elevation record of Marbled Cat in Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Borneo)
Paul Carter, 20 Aug 2016
Revised Feb 2017 with a link to Andrew Boyce’s camera-trap record.
A version of this post was published (April 2017) in CAT News Nr 65 Winter 2017.

On 26 May 2016 I was spotlighting alone along Power Station Road in Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Borneo) and at 7.30 pm I had brief views of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) near the lower entrance of the Bukit Ular trail. The sighting was at 1780 m elevation (data from Google Earth) and extends the previously known range of elevation in Borneo. The previous highest elevation records of marbled cat in Borneo are camera trap records at approximately 1550 m in Kinabalu Park (A Boyce, pers comm) and 1342 m in the Crocker Range National Park (Hearn, pers comm).  It has, however, been recorded up to an elevation of 3000 m elsewhere in Asia; for example Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area in Laos where it was recorded from 1042 m to 1913 m (CatSG website, 2016). There are few recent records of other felids in this area of Kinabalu Park: a bay cat Catopuma badia was recorded in 1970 at 1650 m (Phillipps and Phillipps, 2016).

Kinabalu Park in northern Sabah is centered on Mount Kinabalu at 4095 m; the Power Station Road is a 4.5 km long sealed access road from the park’s headquarters (at 1570 m elevation) up through montane forest to Tympohon Gate at 1860 m. I had brief binocular views then took one out-of-focus image of the head-on view and one image of the nape and upper shoulders as it turned and left. I did not get views of the tail.

20160526-1034-MarbledCat-ByPaulCarter-500p

20160526-1035-MarbledCat-ByPaulCarter-500p

ID Notes: The cat was sitting amongst some logs and shrubbery on a bank at the road edge. The upper chest and upper front legs were well spotted, with small spots. The area of the upper sides and shoulder shows an overall buffish grey base colouring; a narrow, vertical dark line with pale edge on grey can also be seen. The images were shown to three biologists (Andrew Hearn, John Mathai and Rustam) who work on Bornean felids/carnivores, and all provided independent confirmation that it was a marbled cat (and my thanks to them for their reviews). At their suggestion I have submitted a record for publication in Cat News (http://www.catsg.org/); this post is a summary of that submission.

Feb 2017 update: Andrew Boyce’s camera-trap record at 1,550 m elevation can be viewed here: http://andyjboyce.weebly.com/birding-and-natural-history.html

References
– CatSG. 2016. Marbled cat. http://www.catsg.org/m/index.php?id=122.
– Hearn AJ, Ross J, Bernard H, Bakar SA, Hunter LTB, Macdonald DW (2016) The First Estimates of Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata Population Density from Bornean Primary and Selectively Logged Forest. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151046. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151046.
– Phillipps Q. & Phillipps, K. 2016. Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Ecology: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan, p 282. John Beaufoy Publishing.
– Rustam, Hearn A.J., Ross J., Alfred R., Samejima H., Heydon M., Cheyne S.M., Brodie J., Giordano A.J., Bernard H., Boonratana R., Loken B., Mohamed A., Augeri D.M., Eaton J., Hon J., Lim B.L., Marshall A.J., Mathai J., Semiadi G., Macdonald D.W., Breitenmoser-Würsten C., Kramer-Schadt S. & Wilting A. (2016) Predicted distribution of the Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) on Borneo. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 33 pp 157–164.

Author: Paul Carter

Wildlife traveler interested in mammals and photography.

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