Correspondence regarding ‘Clouded leopards, the secretive top-carnivore of South-East Asian rainforests: their distribution, status and conservation needs in Sabah, Malaysia’
Chris H. Gordon1*, Anne-Marie E. Stewart1, Erik Meijaard1
1The Nature Conservancy, East Kalimantan Program, Jalan Gamelan 4, Samarinda 75123, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
*Corresponding Author E-mail addresses:
BMC Ecology 2007, 7:5. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
Due to their secretive behaviour, nocturnal habits and low densities, there has been a distinct lack of research conducted on clouded leopards (Neofelis spp.), and thus little information exists on their ecology, distribution and behaviour. Clouded leopards probably spend a large amount of their waking hours moving on the ground, during both day and night , and have been recorded using logging roads for travel [2-4], with Gordon and Stewart  noting that logging roads do not act as ecological barriers to clouded leopard territories. Furthermore, clouded leopards have even been recorded using logging roads for the purposes of hunting, and for marking their territory . Their use of roads offers one of the few opportunities to observe signs of clouded leopards without using the expensive techniques of camera trapping or radio-collaring.
Most studies on large solitary felids apply radio telemetry and camera trapping to estimate home range sizes and densities [5-7]. However, in a recent paper, Wilting et al.  attempt to estimate the population size of Sundaic clouded leopards (recently renamed as Neofelis diardi)  in their study area through the identification of individuals from their tracks. They then proceed to extrapolate this information to estimate the distribution and status of the clouded leopard in the whole of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Below, we address four issues raised by Wilting et al. that we consider to fall short of scientific standards.