Wildlife & Biodiversity

Camera traps click ties between species in Sumatra

The traps, deployed for eight years as part of a study, recorded the haunts and habits of dozens of species

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 25 February 2020
A Sunda Clouded Leopard. Photo: Wikimedia Commons__

Camera traps deployed in one of Indonesia’s major protected areas as part of an eight-year-long study, have captured relationships between several rare Sumatran wildlife species.

For example, those species that compete with the critically endangered Sumatran tiger as top carnivores, like the Sunda Clouded Leopard, usually avoid moving around when tigers are about, the study noted.

The motion-sensitive camera traps were deployed across a 50-square mile swathe of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra for eight years.

According to the study, tigers were most active during daytime and most were captured on camera at around midday. Consequently, clouded leopards were not captured by the cameras between noon and late evening, since they could be attacked by tigers if crossing paths.

However, smaller carnivores like Asian golden cats and marbled cats did not avoid tigers, the study found.

This could be because the smaller cats feed on smaller prey such as rodents unlike the clouded leopard that feasts on larger prey like the Sumatran tiger.

The camera traps captured 39 animal species in all. Besides Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, Asian golden cats, marbled cats, Malayan sun bears and masked palm civets the traps also recorded 28 species that had not been seen in previous surveys. These include the Sunda pangolin, the dhole and the otter civet.

However, species like the Sumatran rhino, the dark-handed gibbon and the hairy-nosed otter were not captured by the traps. These animals had been sighted in previous surveys.

Camera traps helped document a lot of hidden behaviours and inter-specific interactions that would otherwise not be known, Max Allen, a wildlife ecologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey and lead researchers, was quoted as saying in a press statement.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Animal Biodiversity and Conservation.

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