Threats to Big Cats in Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia is experiencing rapid rates of habitat conversion as homogenous oil palm plantations are replacing biodiverse areas. These oil palm plantations have exploded over recent decades, altering the landscape for species such as tigers, leopards, and clouded leopards who depend on large tracts of habitat for survival. To understand how to protect these big cats and their habitats, I examined 1) the current state of big cat habitat and habitat connectivity in Southeast Asia, 2) how oil palm plantation expansion would impact remaining habitat, 3) additional threats challenging big cats such as poaching, forest loss, and human population growth, and 4) the overlap between protected areas and threatened habitat. This study found that big cat habitat patches are already isolated from one another. While oil palm was not found to be the biggest threat to big cat connectivity, habitat in Malaysia would suffer most from the expansion of oil palm plantations. Overall, big cats are experiencing the greatest anthropogenic threats to their habitat in Malaysia, Myanmar, and eastern India with over half of the threatened habitat patches falling outside of protected areas.





McMillan, Madeleine (2018). Threats to Big Cats in Southeast Asia. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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