Sumatran Rhino

Sumatran Rhinoceros Photo Credit Kat Jenkinson

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Sumatran rhino is also known as a  hairy rhinoceros or Asian two-horned rhinoceros. Like the Javan rhino, the Sumatran rhino once had a range which covered a far larger area: rainforests, swamps and cloud forests in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and southwestern China, particularly in Sichuan.

There are still 3 on the island of Borneo, as you can see, the map still lists a population on the Malay peninsula though it is thought that this group is extinct. The 3 subspecies are:

  • The Sumatran island population: Western (34-47 individuals). This is unfortunately split in to 4 populations
  • The Borneo island population: Eastern (may be as low as 3). This was only discovered in 2016 in            East Kalimantan, after the population in Sabah, Malaysia (northern part of the island) was declared extinct in 2015
  • The mainland population: Northern (this is thought to be extinct as of 2010, but it is possible that a small group remain.
The Sumatran rhino spends most of its life alone, except for courtship and raising of young. It is more vocal than other rhino species, as well as communicating through marking soil with its feet, twisthing saplings into patterns, and leaving excrement. the species is much better studied than the similarly hard to see or find, for the Javan rhinoceros, in part because of a program which bought 40 Sumatran rhino into captivity in an attempt to preserve the species. Though a number of rhinos died once at the various destinations, and no offspring were produced for 20 years.


Only four areas are known to contain Sumatran rhinoceros: Bukit Barisan Selatan National park, Gunung Leuser national park, and Way Kambas National park on Sumatra, and on Borneo west of Samarindah.

We hope to be able to list trekking for seeing animals like this in the future, do get in touch if you work in this field.

Primate family tree main and great and lesser apes

Primate family tree

The primates are in some ways one of the most successful families. It is true that many are now endangered, however, unfortunately, that is as a result of the run-away success of the most successful member of the primate family us! Having left the rainforests behind, we have been reducing their coverage dramatically over the last few centuries. 

The sad thing, is that while we have pushed many of our closest cousins towards extinction, the loss of forests may well cost us dearly in the future as well. As a species, we need to pull together to meet this challenge. in order to jump to the various families, click on the family of interest above – though all can also be reached by scrolling down.

Great Apes

Great ape Family split is thought to have split from its nearest relative – the gibbon family, around 17 million years ago.

4 million years later the Orangutan family split from the gorilla line and the human/chimp line.

3 million years after this (so around 10 million years ago) the gorilla family split from the Homo (humans) and Pan

Finally the human line (homo) split from the Pan line 5-6 million years ago.

It should be noted, that chimpanzees and Bonobos split from a common ancestor just 1.8 million years ago. This occurred as the two populations ceased to be able to have contact with each other – the Congo rive formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.

For more information on each species, click on their photo and this will take you to their page

It should be noted that while I have grouped eastern western and skywalker gibbon together, there is some contention that the skywalker gibbon should be in its own genus, having diverged around half a million years aog


Big cat family tree

The Cat (felidae) family tree

The Cats form an incredibly successful family. It is true that they are missing from the polar regions, and Australasia, but everywhere that they reached they have been successful, and in many ecosystems they are the undisputed kings

Panthera Family

 This family split from hte Felid ancestor 10.8 million years ago. There have been some debate as to whether the two species of clouded leopards should be included in Panthera. On the circular mammal tree (which we are using – look in the species watch tab, or click here)

They are generally included in a subgenus Panthera_Neofilis


Bay cat Familiy

Bay cat ancestor split 9.4 milion years ago

Caracal Family

Caracal Ancestor split 8.5 million years ago

Ocelot Family

Ocelot Ancestor 2.9 million years ago

Lynx Family

Lynx Ancestor 3.2 million years ago

Puma Family

Puma ancestor 4.9 million years ago

Leopard cat Family

Leopard cat Ancestor 5.9 million year ago

Domestic cat Family

Domestic cat Ancestor

Clouded leopard and Sunda clouded leopard

Clouded leopard and sunda clouded leopard

Clouded leopards are actually one of the most ancient cat species, however due to their inability to roar or purr, they cannot officially be considered a big cat (roar) or a small cat (purr) due to their definition, which puts them in an odd category. They are most closely related to snow leopards, and are in the same family as the big cats from genetic research. It has recently been confirmed that there are 2 different clouded leopard species, one on the mainland, and the other on the islands (the sunda clouded leopard.

Both species are considered vulnerable. The mainland clouded leopard is thought to number between 3700 and 5580, while the sunda clouded leopard is thought to number around 4500 3800 in Borneo and 730 on Sumatra.

Clouded leopards are found in the forests of South East Asia. Both Poaching and habitat loss threaten their future survival is not easy to see, it makes it is hard for it to be clear what its current range is. However, if you simply compare extinct to all possible remaining habitat, you can see the best possibiltiy is that range has reduced by around 50%

The clouded leopard has been split into two species – the Clouded leopard found on mainland Asia (big picture at the top), and the Sunda clouded leopard (picture above) found on Borneo and Sumatra (these Sunda Clouded leopards have not interbred for a very long time so are considered 2 subspecies). 


This is a further image of a clouded leopard though taken in a US zoo, which allows an easier time of getting a good view of the head.

The map above shows the former and current range for these two species. As we start to link with places on the ground, we are likely to create separate pages for each of these clouded leopard species. Below is a video of each species of clouded leopard.

We look to work with people on the ground. Do get in touch if you live or work in the area, and can help people see these incredible animals click here

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Flat-headed cat

Flat-headed cat

Flat-headed cat

Found on the Malay peninsular, as well as Borneo and Sumatra, the flat-headed cat is (like so many cats on this list) threatened with extinction, mostly as a result of habitat, which is being turned into farmland, palm oil plantations and human settlements.

Little is known about the wild behaviour of this cat – while it is thought to be nocturnal, in captivity it proved to be crepescular (that is active in early morning and late afternoon.

Fishing cat

fishing cat phot by Kelinahandbasket

Fishing cat

The current range of the Fishing cat

The fishing cat has been classed as vulnerable since 2016.

 It is a midsized cat he fishing cat lives foremost in the vicinity of wetlands, along rivers, streams, oxbow lakes, in swamps and mangroves. One of the alarming things to look at, is that the majority of this range is likely to be hit hard if sea levels do rise significantly over the last few decades.

Marbled cat

Marbled cat

With a distribution from the Eastern Himalayas through to South-East Asia, it inhabits forests up to 2500m elevation. Its size is similar to a domestic cat.

Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh , Cambodia , Yunnan province (China), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Thailand. Hunting is regulated in Laos and Singapore. In Bhutan and Brunei, the marbled cat is not legally protected outside protected areas. The legal state in Cambodia and Vietnam is unclear. Indiscriminate snaring in its range threatens its survival in places. It is valued for its skin meat and bones, though rarely seems to feature in the illegal Asian wildlife trade.

It is closely related to the Asiatic Golden Cat, and the Borneo bay cat

Borneo bay cat

Borneo bay cat

Borneo Bay Cat

The Borneo bay cat is restricted to the island of Borneo, and is a similar size to a domestic cat. It is officially classed as vulnerable, but no accurate data exists on how many there are. They are rarely seen, making it hard to do an accurate survey.

It is closely related to the Asiatic golden cat and the Marbled cat

Asiatic Golden Cat

An Asian Golden cat Photo credit Karen Stoll Wiki Commons

Asiatic golden cat

The Asian Golden cat is found across Tibet, Nepal, and Sikkim through southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. Having said this, they are rarely seen in the wild, which makes assessing their status rather hard, however it is classed as vulnerable. It is a mid-sized cat.

It is considered near threatened. Of course, were this to change it would be hard to do anything about it, given how rarely it is seen. On the other hand, this secretive behaviour does also make it a very hard animal to target directly.

Being only a mid-sized cat, it is not capable of taking on large prey. However, they are effective hunters, and in places where they are farmers in their road, they are not above taking chickens.


It is closely related to the Borneo bay cat, and the Marbled cat

Below here is a video of the species, and below that is a list of all blog articles which include mention of this species.

Below that we will include any links that will allow you to see this species in the wild (it is rarely seen, so even being in the right place does not guarantee you a sighting). Never-the-less, visiting the area, will help save this species, and there is always a chance that you might spot it.


Positive news from Borneo – reconnecting wilderness

One of the problems with cutting down rainforest, it often what is left is so fragmented that it is useless for conservation. Remaining blocks of forest must allow a viable population of the rarest creatures, in order for the animals not to need to travel outside protected areas.

In Borneo, like in Sumatra, there has been a rapid loss of rainforest over the last few decades. Often it is claimed that enough is left behind in order to conserve the animals that live there.

Could this provide a way for wildlife and humans to thrive in close proximity?

In Borneo, while there is still a large quantity of wilderness, this is increasingly fragmented.

Continue reading “Positive news from Borneo – reconnecting wilderness”
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