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Rare photos give a glimpse into the lives of wild cats in Malaysia’s tropical jungles

Editor’s Note: Call to Earth is a CNN editorial series committed to reporting on the environmental challenges facing our planet, together with the solutions. Rolex’s Perpetual Planet initiative has partnered with CNN to drive awareness and education around key sustainability issues and to inspire positive action.


Malaysia’s tropical jungle is one of the most cat-rich areas of the planet. It is most famous for its tiger population, but eight other species of wild cats also roam, such as the clouded leopard, the bay cat, and the flat-headed cat.

These felines have gone under the radar as conservation efforts have focused on supporting the Malayan tiger – of which fewer than 150 individuals remain. But a photo series curated byconservation organization Panthera is intended to give the smaller species their moment in the spotlight.

Over time Panthera has collected a number of images of the different species, taken by camera traps and photographers, which it hopes will increase the public’s awareness of and connection with the less-celebrated cats.

At flat-headed cat is photographed at night, beside the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Borneo.

These wild cats are notoriously elusive and, besides the tiger, understudied. According to the IUCN Red List, the global inventory for threatened species, there are few records or population estimates available for the Borneo bay cat, the marbled cat and the flat-headed cat. Despite this, almost all Malaysia’s cat species are classifiedas endangered, vulnerable or near threatened, due to habitat loss, poaching and climate change.

Roshan Guharajan, project coordinator for Panthera Malaysia, focuses on the Malaysian region of the island of Borneo, which is home to five species of