The Borneo Clouded Leopard is one of the most sought after encounters for wildlife enthusiasts visiting Sabah, Borneo. Some people travel to Sabah specifically in search of this rare and beautiful big cat. Some will stay for two weeks or more in pursuit of a sighting. The Borneo Clouded Leopard has been top of my wish-list for more than 10 years and this weekend i was “baptised” and blessed with my first encounter – and what an encounter it was !
I had taken my Mum on safari to Danum Valley for a 3D/2N adventure. Mum love’s birds so i thought a quiet and relaxed morning “birding” would be perfect. In particular we were searching for the six species of Pitta birds found in Danum Valley. After about one hour of “calling” the birds and seeing 4 of the 6 species we got the radio call from another ranger that a Borneo Clouded Leopard had been spotted at the Canopy Walkway. We ran as fast as our legs could take us, it was the fastest 500m sprint i had done in hiking boots, we then skidded down the slopes of the jungle forest to a large decayed log. Inside the log was one of the most beautiful creatures i had ever seen. At first we could only see the striking clouded pattern of fur that resembles the lowland jungle forest, then we saw his huge tail, perfectly evolved for climbing trees. After some manoeuvring, a few scratches and a number of leech removals and with quiet and precise instructions from my guide i was peering at the Leopard from one end of the rotten tree, i had a great view. After a few minutes he crawled out from the log and walked away, we followed as he disappeared into the 130 million year old dense primary rainforest.
He left behind his kill, a Lesser Mouse Dear. So the researcher and guide set up a camera trap in the hope to get an image of him when he returned. Indeed he came back about one hour later and the camera captured the most amazing set of images of the Leopard with his kill.
Borneo Clouded Leopard
The Borneo Clouded Leopard is a wild cat occurring only in Borneo & Sumatra. Scientists discovered it as a new species and different from the Clouded Leopard found in other parts of Asia in 2007. They believe the Borneo population likely diverged from the mainland population some 1.4 million years ago. Its very difficult to know how many individuals still exist in the wild since they are so secretive and live in dense lowland forests. The most recent research suggests between 5,000 – 11,000 still live in the whole of Borneo. Certainly we were very fortunate to have this encounter and i’m so thankful to Azmil, my guide, to Eddy Boy Jon the researcher who provided me with his amazing picture and to Calixtus Laudi who gave me the images taken by the camera trap later that afternoon.
Borneo Clouded Leopards are rare and the only place to see them in the wild is in the jungle, your guide plays a big role in your wildlife encounters and we believe in working with some of the best guides in the field. So if you want us to arrange your jungle safari get in touch with Downbelow Adventures.