Javan leopards (Panthera pardus melas) are distinct from other Asian leopards and probably colonized Java around 600,000 years ago when it was still connected to mainland Asia. The Javan leopard is the last big cat left on the island after the Javan tiger went extinct in the early 1980s. With an estimated population of less than 250 breeding adults, Javan leopards are critically endangered. Roughly half of Indonesia’s human population resides on the island of Java, so habitat loss and poaching have pushed the Javan leopard to the brink of extinction.
Conservation CATalyst was invited by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to begin analyzing camera trap footage of Javan leopards in one of their last strongholds, Ujung Kulon National Park. This park contains the largest remaining area of lowland rainforests in Java. Camera traps here are primarily in place for the critically endangered Javan rhino, of which only 57 individuals remain. However, many fantastic leopard pictures are also obtained through this research. By identifying individual leopards and assessing photo ‘recapture’ rates, we can develop a population estimate for Javan leopards in the park.
We plan to initiate more in-depth research on this unique and critically endangered cat in the very near future. Without immediate conservation action, Javan leopards will join the ranks of Javan tigers and will be gone from Earth forever. Our first research goals are to estimate leopard populations and determine population trends.
Help us save the unique Javan leopard before it’s too late!