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New mammal found in Borneo jungles: WWF
Updated: 2005-12-07 06:48

JAKARTA (AFP) - 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 organisation said.

The carnivorous mammal, slightly larger than a domestic cat with dark red fur and a long bushy tail, was photographed twice by an automated camera at night in 2003 on the Indonesian side of the island, the WWF said Tuesday.

Neither Bornean wildlife experts nor locals well acquainted with the area recognised the animal, the group said.

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.

"Most were convinced it was a new species of carnivore," WWF said, adding that researchers were hoping to set traps to catch a live specimen.

WWF ecologist Stephan Wulffraat told AFP that a live capture of the animal was required to confirm it was a new species.

The animal appeared to be a cross "between a cat and a fox" and may live in trees during the day, coming down at night, he said.

The group said it was 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.

WWF warned that plans 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.

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