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Optimal attractants to increase visits by clouded leopards to remote-camera sets


  • Associate Editor: Rollins


Clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) are rare Southeast Asian felids; they are almost exclusively studied in the wild using remote cameras. These studies identify presence–absence and estimate abundance of clouded leopards to improve conservation efforts. Photographing clouded leopards at remote-camera sites requires extensive time in the field. Improving success of remote-camera sets could improve knowledge about population dynamics and identify critical conservation areas for these animals. This study tested a range of visual and scent attractants widely used to attract felids and other carnivores to remote-camera sites. The goal was to identify attractants that might best attract clouded leopards. During August 2011, we used captive animals (n = 9) at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Front Royal, Virginia, USA, to test attractants. Turkey feathers and U.S. Department of Agriculture scent disks were the best-performing visual and scent attractants (P < 0.05 vs. control); a combination of the two was not significantly different from either individual treatment (P > 0.05). Turkey feathers and scent disks are attractants that are highly effective in a controlled setting and should be field-tested; it appears that they may significantly improve success of remote-camera sets targeting clouded leopards. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.