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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024



Sunda Leopard Cat

Family : Felidae
Species : Prionailurus javanensis

Head-body length : up to 42 cm
Tail length : up to 22 cm
Weight : up to 2.5 kg

The Sunda Leopard Cat occurs in a wide variety of habitats including primary and secondary forest in lowlands and hills, and plantations (including oil palm): the species is highly tolerant of altered and degraded habitats. On the island of Java the species can occur in pine plantations and shrub, and is known to explore rice paddy for prey.

This small cat is nocturnal and terrestrial in habits, preying mainly on small mammals, particularly rats (in Borneo, the forest rat Maxomys whiteheadi is common in oil palm plantations). Small birds, frogs, lizards and snakes are also eaten.

Leopard cats are in turn preyed upon by the Reticulated Python, which can also survive in oil palm estates.

The species is easily identified by its size, which is close to that of the domestic cat, and by its fur which comprises small to medium dark spots and blotches on an orange-yellow background. The underside has sparse dark blotches on a white background.

All species of wild cat have a certain degree of variability in their fur colour and in the arrangement of any spots or stripes. As a generalisation, however, the Sunda Leopard Cat appears to have smaller dark spots and blotches than its cousin, the Mainland Leopard Cat

The Sunda Leopard Cat, which was formerly considered a subspecies of Prionailurus bengalensis, occurs mainly in insular Southeast Asia, including the larger islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo, and islands of the Philippines, including Palawan, Negros, Cebu and Panay.

The species may possibly also occur on the Malay Peninsula, with its range overlapping that of the Mainland Leopard Cat, however there appears to be little data to support this idea.

Fig 1 : Typical example from the island of Borneo.

Fig 2 : Typical habitat on the island of Java, Indonesia comprising secondary hill forest and rice paddy: the Sunda Leopard Cat can survive in such forest and is known to explore nearby rice paddy in search of prey (probably rats).

Image attribution : Fig 1 by Iltizam Speed is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

References : M12

Kitchener, A. C., Breitenmoser-Wrsten, C., Eizirik, E., Gentry, A., Werdelin, L., Wilting, A., ... & Johnson, W. E. (2017). A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group.

Shanida, S. S., Partasasmita, R., Husodo, T., Parikesit, P., & Megantara, E. N. (2018). Javan Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis javanensis Desmarest, 1816) in the Cisokan non-conservation forest areas, Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. Biodiversitas Journal of Biological Diversity, 19(1), 37-41.

Fig 1
ゥ Iltizam Speed

Fig 2