National Geographic News

National Geographic News

Published March 2, 2011

A camera trap has caught one of the world's most elusive cats on film for the first time, conservationists say.

The Sundaland clouded leopard—only identified as its own species in 2007—was spotted recently in Indonesia's Berbak National Park on the island of Sumatra (see map), according to the Zoological Society London (ZSL).

Previously the cat was believed to be of the same species as the mainland clouded leopard.

"This footage is further evidence of the rich wildlife found in Berbak National Park, and is yet another reason why it [is] essential that a conservation plan is put in place for the long-term protection of these forests," ZSL's Sarah Christie said in a statement.

(Related pictures: "'Lost' Deer, Rare Cuckoo Caught in Camera Traps.")

The new video shows one of the predator's unique adaptations to treetop living—a long tail that ensures balance on branches. (Learn more about National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.)

The cat also relies on long claws and highly flexible ankles to scramble among the trees—and even shimmy down tree trunks like a squirrel, according to ZSL.

The species, listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, probably numbers at fewer than ten thousand animals.

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