February 26, 2010
Officials say a population of 53 extremely endangered leopards has been found in Java’s Gunung Halimun Salak National Park.
“We have rediscovered a population of leopards which were on the brink of extinction in the Gunung Endut area" in Banten province, park director Pepen Efendi told kompas.com.
Pepen said the park will increase its security patrols, and warned that poachers would face criminal charges.
“I think if the patrols in the park are not intensified, other endangered animals could become extinct, too,” he said. “It will be our loss and our children and grandchildren’s loss, too, if they go extinct.”
Park employers are encouraging local residents to take part in protecting the endangered animals. Pepen said people living near the park should preserve the forest, since disturbing the habitat might cause the leopards to roam into the villages.
He noted that there are still plenty of deer and boars at Gunung Endut to support the leopard population.
The population of Javan leopards is unknown, but is “certainly less than 250 mature individuals (possibly even less than 100)” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. They are categorized as Critically Threatened due to habitat loss.
There are scattered populations of leopards in several national parks on Java, from Ujung Kulon on the tip of West Java to Alas Purwo on the tip of East Java.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org