KOTA KINABALU - A protected clouded leopard was found dead in Sabah's east coast town of Tawau.
The Bornean leopard is believed to have been hit by a vehicle while crossing the Kuhara road after it came out from a secondary forest about 2km from the town in search of food.
A Tawau resident, who uploaded a picture of the dead cat on Facebook, said that it was spotted dead on the road at about 9am on Saturday.
Conservationist estimated that there are about 5,000 to 11,000 of the leopards within the forests of Borneo island and they believe that their numbers are fast dwindling.
The Sabah government has placed the leopards in its protection list under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment.
Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said that the leopards were found in most forest areas around Sabah and it was not surprising to find them close to secondary forests near urban centres.
"They usually search for preys like rats. It is a pity that the cat was knocked down," he said, urging motorist to drive slow in areas frequently used by the animals.
"We also hope that people will just leave the animals alone and let them roam freely within their habitats," he said, adding that the cats were also seen in oil palm estates, as well as secondary forests close to human settlements.