Journal of Tropical Ecology

Diet and habitat selection of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis) in an agricultural landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Rajanathan Rajaratnam a1c1, Mel Sunquist a2, Lynette Rajaratnam a3 and Laurentius Ambu a4
a1 School of Human and Environmental Studies, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia
a2 Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, P.O. Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611-0430, USA
a3 School of Human and Environmental Studies, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia
a4 Sabah Wildlife Department, 5 Floor, Block B, MUIS Complex, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Article author query
rajaratnam r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sunquist m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
rajaratnam l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ambu l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Ten leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis) were captured and radio tracked in an agricultural landscape in Sabah, Malaysia. Seventy-two leopard cat scats were analysed for diet while information on prey distribution and abundance was obtained from a concurrent study on small mammals. Mammals, namely murids, were the major prey with Whitehead's rat (Maxomys whiteheadi) being the principal prey species. Leopard cats significantly preferred the relatively open oil palm habitat over both selectively logged dipterocarp forest and secondary forest fragments. Although relative murid abundance was highest in selectively logged dipterocarp forest, oil palm harboured a higher relative abundance of Maxomys whiteheadi. Visibility and ease of movement for leopard cats was also better in oil palm, thereby possibly increasing their hunting success. We suggest that the significantly higher use of oil palm by leopard cats is related to their preference for areas with high prey ‘catchability’ rather than high prey density. Although secondary-forest fragments were least selected, they were important to leopard cats for resting and possibly breeding, highlighting the importance of forest fragments for the conservation of Bornean leopard cats in agricultural landscapes.

(Accepted November 6 2006)

Key Words: leopard cat; diet; habitat selection; oil palm; prey catchability.

c1 Corresponding author. Email: