UK
06/11/2013 06:57 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:53 GMT

Rare & Elusive Wild Bay Cat Spotted In Borneo Forest (PICTURES, VIDEO)

Feast your eyes, because these are of just a mere handful of pictures and footage in existence of one of the world's most elusive and rare wild cats.

Until now, the bay cat, (Pardofelis badia), had been recorded on camera traps a very limited number of times in its Borneo forest home and had been long believed to have become extinct after its last sighting in 2003.

However, new images taken in Malaysian Borneo in 2009 and 2010 renewed hope for its survival, as do these snaps.

rare bornean cat

A bay cat picks its way through Borneo forest

The latest images, taken by a camera in a previously unsurveyed rainforest by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Imperial College London, show the animal apparently thriving - no less in a heavily logged area of forest.

This is only one of four forest areas in all of Borneo - the third largest island in the world - which has so far been reported to have all five endangered cat species, including the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) and marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata).

Camera traps are rapidly transforming how information is collected for many species of mammals and birds.

borneo bay cat photographed

The animal was thought to have become extinct after its last sighting in 2003, though pictures in 2009 and 2010 renewed hope for its survival

Many of these species are exceedingly good at spotting, and avoiding, conservationists who spend time in the field seeking them. Camera traps, on the other hand, sit silently in the forest often working for months on end come rain or shine.

All five cat species mentioned are highly-threatened: four of the five species are listed as threatened with global extinction on the IUCN Red List. Almost nothing is known about the habits of the mysterious bay cat, but it is thought to be at risk of extinction due to widespread loss of its habitat on Borneo.

Dr Robert Ewers from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, leads the SAFE tropical forest conservation project in Borneo, where the bay cats were seen.

borneo bay cat photographed

The bay cat is similar in size to a large domestic cat and has an either reddish or grey coat

He said: "We were completely surprised to see so many bay cats at these sites in Borneo where natural forests have been so heavily logged for the timber trade.

"Conservationists used to assume that very few wild animals can live in logged forest, but we now know this land can be home for many endangered species. Our study shows solid evidence that even large carnivores, such as these magnificent bay cats, can survive in commercially logged forests."

Elusive bay cat caught on camera