Skip to main content Accessibility help

Responses of Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi population density to anthropogenic disturbance: refining estimates of its conservation status in Sabah

  • Andrew J. Hearn (a1), Joanna Ross (a1), Henry Bernard (a2), Soffian A. Bakar (a3), Benoit Goossens (a4), Luke T.B. Hunter (a5) and David W. Macdonald (a1)...


Extensive areas of tropical forests have been, and continue to be, disturbed as a result of selective timber extraction. Although such anthropogenic disturbance typically results in the loss of biodiversity, many species persist, and their conservation in production landscapes could be enhanced by a greater understanding of how biodiversity responds to forest management practices. We conducted intensive camera-trap surveys of eight protected forest areas in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, and developed estimates of Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi population density from spatially explicit capture–recapture analyses of detection data to investigate how the species’ abundance varies across the landscape and in response to anthropogenic disturbance. Estimates of population density from six forest areas were 1.39–3.10 individuals per 100 km2. Our study provides the first evidence that the population density of the Sunda clouded leopard is negatively affected by hunting pressure and forest fragmentation, and that among selectively logged forests, time since logging is positively associated with abundance. We argue that these negative anthropogenic impacts could be mitigated with improved logging practices, such as reducing the access of poachers by effective gating and destruction of road access points, and by the deployment of anti-poaching patrols. By calculating a weighted mean population density estimate from estimates developed here and from the literature, and by extrapolating this value to an estimate of current available habitat, we estimate there are 754 (95% posterior interval 325–1,337) Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah.


Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail


Hide All
Brodie, J. & Giordano, A.J. (2012) Density of the Vulnerable Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi in a protected area in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Oryx, 46, 427430.
Brodie, J.F., Giordano, A.J., Dickson, B., Hebblewhite, M., Bernard, H., Mohd-Azlan, J. et al. (2015a) Evaluating multispecies landscape connectivity in a threatened tropical mammal community. Conservation Biology, 29, 122132.
Brodie, J.F., Giordano, A.J., Zipkin, E.F., Bernard, H., Mohd-Azlan, J. & Ambu, L. (2015b) Correlation and persistence of hunting and logging impacts on tropical rainforest mammals. Conservation Biology, 29, 110121.
Burnham, D., Hinks, A.E. & Macdonald, D.W. (2012) Life and dinner under the shared umbrella: patterns in felid and primate communities. Folia Primatologica, 83, 148170.
Carbone, C. & Gittleman, J.L. (2002) A common rule for the scaling of carnivore density. Science, 295, 22732276.
Cheyne, S.M., Sastramidjaja, W.J., Muhalir, , Rayadin, Y. & Macdonald, D.W. (2016) Mammalian communities as indicators of disturbance across Indonesian Borneo. Global Ecology and Conservation, 7, 157173.
Cheyne, S.M., Stark, D.J., Limin, S.H. & Macdonald, D.W. (2013) First estimates of population ecology and threats to Sunda clouded leopards Neofelis diardi in a peat-swamp forest, Indonesia. Endangered Species Research, 22, 19.
Corlett, R.T. (2007) The impact of hunting on the mammalian fauna of tropical Asian forests. Biotropica, 39, 292303.
Costantini, D., Edwards, D.P. & Simons, M.J. (2016) Life after logging in tropical forests of Borneo: a meta-analysis. Biological Conservation, 196, 182188.
Cushman, S.A., Macdonald, E.A., Landguth, E.L., Malhi, Y. & Macdonald, D.W. (2017) Multiple-scale prediction of forest loss risk across Borneo. Landscape Ecology, 32, 15811598.
Efford, M. (2004) Density estimation in live-trapping studies. Oikos, 106, 598610.
Fitzherbert, E.B., Struebig, M.J., Morel, A., Danielsen, F., Brühl, C.A., Donald, P.F. & Phalan, B. (2008) How will oil palm expansion affect biodiversity? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23, 538545.
Foster, R.J. & Harmsen, B.J. (2012) A critique of density estimation from camera-trap data. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 76, 224236.
Gaveau, D.L.A., Sloan, S., Molidena, E., Yaen, H., Sheil, D., Abram, N.K. et al. (2014) Four decades of forest persistence, clearance and logging on Borneo. PLoS ONE, 9(7), e101654.
Gaveau, D.L.A., Sheil, D., Husnayaen, , Salim, M.A., Arjasakusuma, S., Ancrenaz, M. et al. (2016) Rapid conversions and avoided deforestation: examining four decades of industrial plantation expansion in Borneo. Scientific Reports, 6,
Gelman, A., Meng, X.L. & Stern, H. (1996) Posterior predictive assessment of model fitness via realized discrepancies. Statistica Sinica, 6, 733760.
Goldberg, J.F., Tempa, T., Norbu, N., Hebblewhite, M., Mills, L.S., Wangchuk, T.R. & Lukacs, P. (2015) Examining temporal sample scale and model choice with spatial capture–recapture models in the common leopard Panthera pardus. PLoS ONE, 10(11), e0140757.
Gopalaswamy, A.M., Royle, J.A., Hines, J.E., Singh, P., Jathanna, D., Kumar, N.S. & Karanth, K.U. (2012) Program SPACECAP: software for estimating animal density using spatially explicit capture–recapture models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3, 10671072.
Haidir, I.A., Dinata, Y., Linkie, M. & Macdonald, D.W. (2013) Asiatic golden cat and Sunda clouded leopard occupancy in the Kerinci Seblat landscape, West-Central Sumatra. CatNews, 59, 710.
Hearn, A.J. (2016) Assessing the influence of anthropogenic disturbance on sympatric felids on Borneo with special reference to the Sunda clouded leopard. DPhil thesis. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Hearn, A., Sanderson, J., Ross, J., Wilting, A. & Sunarto, S. (2008) Neofelis diardi ssp. borneensis. In The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136945A4351615. Http:// [accessed 13 September 2016].
Hearn, A.J., Ross, J., Pamin, D., Bernard, H., Hunter, L. & Macdonald, D.W. (2013) Insights into the spatial and temporal ecology of the Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 61: 871875.
Hearn, A., Ross, J., Brodie, J., Cheyne, S., Haidir, I.A., Loken, B. et al. (2016a) Neofelis diardi. In The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T136603A97212874. Http:// [accessed 11 July 2017].
Hearn, A.J., Ross, J., Macdonald, D.W., Bolongon, G., Cheyne, S.M., Mohamed, A. et al. (2016b) Predicted distribution of the Sunda Clouded leopard Neofelis diardi (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) on Borneo. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 33, 149156.
Hearn, A.J., Ross, J., Bernard, H., Bakar, S.A., Hunter, L.T.B. & Macdonald, D.W. (2016c) The first estimates of marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata population density from Bornean primary and selectively logged forest. PLoS ONE, 11(3), e0151046.
Karanth, K.U., Nichols, J.D., Kumar, N.S., Link, W.A. & Hines, J.E. (2004) Tigers and their prey: predicting carnivore densities from prey abundance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 48544858.
Laurance, W.F., Goosem, M. & Laurance, S.G.W. (2009) Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 24, 659669.
Matsuda, I., Tuuga, A. & Higashi, S. (2008) Clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) predation on proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) in Sabah, Malaysia. Primates, 49, 227231.
McCarthy, J.L., Wibisono, H.T., McCarthy, K.P., Fuller, T.K. & Andayani, N. (2015) Assessing the distribution and habitat use of four felid species in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia. Global Ecology and Conservation, 3, 210221.
Meijaard, E. & Sheil, D. (2008) The persistence and conservation of Borneo's mammals in lowland rain forests managed for timber: observations, overviews and opportunities. Ecological Resources, 23, 2134.
Meijaard, E., Sheil, D., Nasi, R., Augeri, D., Rosenbaum, B., Iskandar, D. et al. (2005) Life after Logging: Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.
Meijaard, E., Sheil, D., Marshall, A.J. & Nasi, R. (2008) Phylogenetic age is positively correlated with sensitivity to timber harvest in Bornean mammals. Biotropica, 40, 7685.
Rabinowitz, A., Andau, P. & Chai, P.P.K. (1987) The clouded leopard in Malaysian Borneo. Oryx, 21, 107111.
R Development Core Team (2014) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Http://
Ross, J., Hearn, A.J., Johnson, P. J. & Macdonald, D.W. (2013) Activity patterns and temporal avoidance by prey in response to Sunda clouded leopard predation risk. Journal of Zoology, 290, 96106.
Royle, J.A. & Young, K.V. (2008) A hierarchical model for spatial capture–recapture data. Ecology, 89, 22812289.
Royle, J.A., Karanth, K.U., Gopalaswamy, A.M. & Kumar, N.S. (2009) Bayesian inference in camera trapping studies for a class of spatial capture–recapture models. Ecology, 90, 32333244.
Royle, J.A., Magoun, A.J., Gardner, B., Valkenburg, P. & Lowell, R.E. (2011) Density estimation in a wolverine population using spatial capture–recapture models. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 75, 604611.
Sollmann, R., Furtado, M.M., Gardner, B., Hofer, H., Jácomo, A.T., Tôrres, N.M. & Silveira, L. (2011) Improving density estimates for elusive carnivores: accounting for sex-specific detection and movements using spatial capture–recapture models for jaguars in central Brazil. Biological Conservation, 144, 10171024.
Sollmann, R., Mohamed, A., Samejima, H. & Wilting, A. (2013) Risky business or simple solution–relative abundance indices from camera-trapping. Biological Conservation, 159, 405412.
Sollmann, R., Linkie, M., Haidir, I.A. & Macdonald, D.W. (2014) Bringing clarity to the clouded leopard Neofelis diardi: first density estimates from Sumatra. Oryx, 48, 536539.
Wilcove, D.S., Giam, X., Edwards, D.P., Fisher, B. & Koh, L.P. (2013) Navjot's nightmare revisited: logging, agriculture, and biodiversity in Southeast Asia. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 28, 531540.
Wilting, A., Fischer, F., Bakar, S.A. & Linsenmair, K.E. (2006) Clouded leopards, the secretive top-carnivore of South-East Asian rainforests: their distribution, status and conservation needs in Sabah, Malaysia. BMC Ecology, 6, 16.
Wilting, A., Mohamed, A., Ambu, L.N., Lagan, P., Mannan, S., Hofer, H. & Sollmann, R. (2012) Density of the Vulnerable Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi in two commercial forest reserves in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Oryx, 46, 423426.
Yeager, C.P. (1991) Possible antipredator behavior associated with river crossings by proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus). American Journal of Primatology, 24, 6166.
Yue, S., Brodie, J.F., Zipkin, E.F. & Bernard, H. (2015) Oil palm plantations fail to support mammal diversity. Ecological Applications, 25, 22852292.


Responses of Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi population density to anthropogenic disturbance: refining estimates of its conservation status in Sabah

  • Andrew J. Hearn (a1), Joanna Ross (a1), Henry Bernard (a2), Soffian A. Bakar (a3), Benoit Goossens (a4), Luke T.B. Hunter (a5) and David W. Macdonald (a1)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed