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Bornean Bay Cat - Catopuma badia

By: C.M.Shorter

The Bornean Bay Cat is one of the least known of our Wild Cats. Bay Cats are endemic to the small island of Borneo in the Indonesian Islands where the recent tsunami caused one of the greatest losses of human life known to man. It is still hard to tell the extent of damage for all Indonesian wildlife. Many believe the animals escaped mostly unharmed and credit their survival to the animal's sixth sense which forwarned them of the earthquake and tsunami disaster. It is amazing that between the period of 1855 to 1928 only six specimens were collected by scientists for study. Most biological data available on this species comes from five skins and two skulls in natural history museums in Europe. In fact they are so rare, the first photograph of a live Bornean Bay Cat was taken in 1988 by a BBC photographer and it was the first picture ever published of this Wild Cat.

Average size is about that of a large house cat. Bornean Bay Cats have dark chestnut, red fur with black markings with lighter golden brown fur on their undersides and limbs. Another color variation is darker fur with a bluish-gray hue to their coat. They have short, rounded head and ears, dark greyish-brown in color with two dark prominent stripes running from the corner of each eye. The back of their head has a dark "M" shaped marking. Body proportions and extremely long tail give it somewhat the appearance of our New World, Jaguarandi.


It has been always been questioned whether the Bay Cat was a separate sub-species or an island version of the Asian Golden Cat. In 1992 a female Bornean Bay Cat was caught on the Sarawak border near Kalimantan and taken to the Sarawak Museum. The cat later died in captivity but was preserved and detail blood analysis and genetic testing proved this cat was indeed a unique species and therefore a highly endangered one. Its teeth are unlike any other cat, with its first upper premolar smaller and having only one root in the gum and opposed to the two roots found in other cats.

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Little is known of their habitat with more recent sightings in varying forest biomes, including hill forest and lowland dipterocarp forest and swamp forest. Borneo claims to have 25 wildlife reserves on paper, but there are actually only three in existence. Bornean Bay Cats remain the mystery of the cat family with very little known about their habits or reproductive cycle. Based on average densities of other small tropical rainforest cats, it is estimated there remain less than 2,500 maturing breeding individuals with a declining trend due to accelerated logging and habitat loss.

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Scientific Name: Catopuma badia
Common Name(s): Bornean Bay Cat
Range: Island of Borneo
Average Weight: 2 - 4 kg (4 - 9 lbs)
Length: About 85 cm (36")
Diet: Carnivorous.
Gestation Period: Unknown
Cub Maturity: Unknown
Cubs Per Litter: Unknown
Lifespan: Unknown
Predators: Man - known to have been taken for pelts.
Social Structure: Unknown
Territory Size: Small Range in rocky scrub, near jungle.
Conservation Status: Offered full protection over most of their range, they are classified by IUCN as vulnerable and CITES has placed the Bornean Bay Cat on Appendix II, due to lack of data.
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