Researchers from the WWF conservation group may have made the extremely rare discovery of a new species of mammal in the dense forests of central Borneo, the organization said yesterday.
The carnivorous mammal, slightly larger than a domestic cat with dark red fur and a long bushy tail, was caught by an automated camera at night twice in 2003 on the Indonesian side of the island, the WWF said in a press release.
Photos of the animals have been shown to locals well acquainted with wildlife in the densely forested area and the organization also consulted several Bornean wildlife experts but none recognised it.
"Most were convinced it was a new species of carnivore," WWF said, adding that researchers were hoping to set cage traps to catch a live specimen.
The WWF says it is extremely rare these days to discover a new mammal species of this size, particularly a carnivore.
If confirmed, it would be the first time in more than a century that a new carnivore has been discovered on the island, which lies between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it added.
The animal, which has very small ears and large hind legs, was spotted in the Kayan Mentarang national park in the mountainous jungles of Kalimantan, where vast tracts of rainforest still remain.
The group warned however that plans by Indonesia announced in July to create the world's largest palm oil plantation in Kalimantan, along the border with Malaysia's Sarawak and Sabah states, threaten further new discoveries.