Get a Glimpse: Nine Exclusive Photos of Malaysia’s Most Threatened Wild Cats and Their Habitats

By Panthera

Clouded leopard

The dense, green, tropical jungles of Malaysia are under threat. On Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, jungle landscapes home to orangutans, elephants and many wild cat species are teetering towards collapse. 

Panthera and its partners — the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department — collaborate to protect the country’s nine wild cat species. Scroll down to learn about these species and Panthera’s work to protect them.

Sunda clouded leopard

Secrets of the Sunda Clouded Leopard

Sunda clouded leopards are the largest wild cats on the island of Borneo. While these apex carnivores dominate the island’s jungles, they are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to poaching and habitat loss. Panthera supports partners, including local communities, in reversing this to improve land management and conduct camera surveys, giving us more insight into the species.

Marbled cat

Major Consequences for Marbled Cats

According to Roshan Guharajan, Panthera Malaysia Project Coordinator, encountering this species can be difficult, as it spends most of its time in the canopy. Its population is decreasing, a challenge many other wild cats face in Borneo.

Bay cat

The Bay Cat: Borneo’s Only Endemic Cat

The Endangered bay cat is exclusively found on Borneo and is highly elusive, making it difficult to study. This is one of the only known high-definition images of the species.


Threatened Tiger Territory

Malayan tigers are some of the rarest big cats in the world, with less than 150 estimated to exist in the wild. However, they’re starting to see positive progress: a new study from Panthera and Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) has shown that a nuanced understanding of the poaching problems and tailored interventions have made poaching incursions less deadly in the region.

Flat-headed cat

Endangered: The Flat-Headed Cat

Flat-headed cats are listed as Endangered by the IUCN and highly elusive. Panthera is using its remote camera surveys to learn how best to systematically monitor the species, including obtaining estimates of their population.

Black panther

Benefitting Black Panthers: The Indochinese Leopard Needs Protection

Mainland Malaysia is home to the Indochinese leopard, one of the rarest leopard subspecies on Earth. A significantly high proportion of these exhibit melanism (black pigment), a rare phenotype. A recent study found Indochinese leopards to be functionally extinct in Cambodia; elsewhere, they need protection. While focused on safeguarding tigers, patrols by Panthera partners also help support this subspecies on Peninsular Malaysia.

Malayan tiger duo

A Duo in the Dark

Malaysia’s tigers are highly threatened by poaching, bringing high conservation attention to the region. “There have been significant investments into forest management and anti-poaching,” says Guharajan. “By default, that’s bringing a lot of benefits to all these different species.”

Clouded leopard

Parting the Clouds

There is still hope for Borneo’s five wild cat species: Sunda clouded leopards (pictured above), leopard cats, flat-headed cats, marbled cats and bay cats. Sustainable commodities and proper land management will help aid these wild cats in their struggle for survival.

Borneo rainforest

The Mist Rises

Malaysian Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia are home to some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Tropical rainforests are crucial to our planet’s well-being — regulating nutrient processes, sequestering carbon and housing a huge proportion of the world’s plants and animals. Learn more in this CNN article about how Panthera and partners protect Malaysia’s cats and rainforest. For more photos, make sure to check out our image collection.