The Bay Cat: Jungle Creature That Eluded Scientists Finally Caught On Film
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Some animals hold a special place in our hearts. From tigers to horses, we know about them from a young age and appreciate their majesty. Other animals, however, are so rare and elusive that few have been lucky enough to even know about them, much less actually see them.
That’s certainly the case with the bay cats of Borneo who are so elusive, most have never even known of their existence.
The Borneo Bay Cat
Bay cats live on the island of Borneo, which is largely made up of rainforests, and is currently home to fewer than 2,500 of these amazing creatures. Due to the threats posed by the increased loss of their habitat, their populations are expected to continue to dwindle at a rapid rate.
Bay cats are currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “Endangered.” They are, in fact, one of the world’s most elusive wild cat species, and sadly, also one of the most endangered.
A Sighting Even Rarer Than Most
Bornean bay cat are quite rare in general, but what makes the recent sighting so special is that not only did it take place about 40 miles outside of what is considered its native range, but the mysterious bay cat that was filmed is remarkable in its own right. This particular cat is very special even among its own kind. For reference, bay cats normally have chestnut-colored fur and white streaks in their tails, like the one pictured here:
The bay cat filmed, however, has much darker fur and appears to be melanistic. Melanism occurs due to the increased development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin and hair of an animal, and is especially frequent in big cats – but also occurs in many other animals.
How Was This Caught On Camera?
Bay cats are solitary, nocturnal, and have a low population density, which already makes them exceedingly difficult to find. That’s why scientists from Muhammadiyah University of Palangkaraya, the University of Exeter, and Oxford Brookes University set up more than 50 camera traps in 28 locations around Central Kalimantan in Borneo’s Rungan region. It took weeks to finally get footage of this elusive bay cat. In order to protect him, though, his exact location is being kept confidential. The researchers didn’t want the wrong people getting their hands on him.
“There is still a lot we don’t know about the forests of Borneo and the clock is ticking,” the researchers said in a statement. “More surveys are needed to understand the distribution and ecological needs of Borneo’s wildlife if we are to save species on the brink of extinction.”
You can view the original footage taken by the trail camera here:
It may seem that a ridiculous amount of work went into finding just one cat, but that’s exactly what makes this story so remarkable.
Hopefully this kind of research will help the bay cats of Borneo survive for generations to come.