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