A recent short training session for community rangers conducted by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in the Jantho Wildlife Reserve, Aceh, produced a surprise result.
During a three-day camera trapping workshop the team photographed an unusual mammal not recognised by any of the local rangers. Looking like an oversized ginger weasel, this bright-coloured animal appears to be a rare colour morph of the collared mongoose Herpestes semitorquatus.
This species has been recorded in Sumatra only occasionally and is noted as Data Deficient by IUCN. In neighbouring Borneo, they are usually a dark brown colour, but a recent paper published in the Small Carnivore Conservation Journal also reported instances of this peculiar colour phase.
Dr Matthew Linkie, FFIs Aceh Programme Manager noted, FFI has been using camera traps in Sumatra for over a decade and accumulated hundreds of thousands of days of trapping time. It is ironic that the first image we get of collared mongoose should be made during a brief training workshop.
This latest record adds to the archive of scarce and endemic species camera trapped by FFI in Sumatra, including the Sumatran ground cuckoo, Sumatran striped rabbit and Sumatran muntjac.
Explore further: Skin coloring of rhesus macaque monkeys linked to breeding success, new study shows