Freedom for A Rare Asiatic Golden Cat

By Pungky Nanda Pratama of The Jungle Library Project

Photos by: Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency of South Sumatra (BKSDA Seksi II)

The Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii ) is a rare wild cat species native to the island of Sumatra. These felines are highly territorial, shy and solitary animals. They can climb trees and are powerful enough to hunt large prey such as mouse deer, muntjac and even young sambar deer. Asiatic Golden Cats are found mainly in virgin forests, but have also been reported around human settlement areas in South Sumatra. They are Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, and under Appendix, I of CITES are under protection by law in Indonesia. No one is permitted to exploit these magnificent animals in Indonesia as they are also protected by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency of South Sumatra.

On the 18 January 2018, we received a report from a local woman who was keeping a Golden Cat as a pet in the crowded Tanjung Cermin Village, Pagar Alam. A team from The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency of South Sumatra Region II ( BKSDA SKW II Sumatra Selatan) lead by Sugianto, was sent to the location to rescue the animal. The lady in question told the team she got the Golden Cat from the local market and had kept him as a pet. Fortunately, she realised it was a protected species and duly informed the conservation agency, as she wanted to release him back into the wild.

This is a reassuring sign for conservation efforts in South Sumatra. Slowly, but surely local people are becoming more aware of rare and protected animals.
After a standard medical check-up, we found the Golden Cat to be in good condition and showing wild behaviour; he was ready for release.

A day after we rescued him, we decided to release him back into the wild at our Conservation Area located in Isau Isau Nature Reserve. Lead by Rohmat and with a different team, we traveled to the release site at Semendo Darat Laut, Muara Enim Region. We chose this location because it is the perfect habitat for Golden Cats, located 788 metres above sea level and far from human settlements. After walking for two hours from Pagar Agung (the last village situated on the border of Nature Reserve), the Asiatic Golden Cat was released and once again roaming in the Sumatran Jungle.

This was our first wildlife rescue of 2018, and we are glad that we could release the cat back into the wild. Hopefully, we can rescue and release more protected animals into the wild in South Sumatra this year.

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