For the first time, Indonesian Mountain Weasel which is little known in distribution, population and ecology was documented through camera trap in Leuser, Sumatra. Mountain weasel (Mustela leutrolina), the small carnivore, was recorded on February 15, 2013, in Leuser Ecosystem Area through camera trapping activity by Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Indonesia. Previously, until 2008 there were only five records of mountain weasel in the form of specimen in Sumatra and nine records in Java, restricted at high altitude above 1,400 asl. M. leutrolina which was photographed in eastern part of Leuser Landscape has discovered at 2,596 m. Thus, it is now safe to assume that the species can be found at high altitudes above 1,400 asl.
The paucity of mountain weasel records indicates how difficult this species is to find using conventional survey techniques. Its threats cannot be meaningfully assessed so it is categorized on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Data Deficient until further study allows an informed judgment. “Whether this is because there is not much study specifically for it, or because of a real rarity is unclear,” said conservation species specialist from WCS, Wulan Pusparini.
A camera-trap provided two photographs (six seconds apart) of M. lutreolina in the eastern part of Leuser Landscape, inside the designated Gunung Leuser National Park. “The camera trapped was initially used for capture-recapture study of Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris in January – July 2013 at animal heights above 45 cm. However, the weasel seems to have been interested in the equipment and climbed the background of one camera-trap’s mount, so the weasel was photographed,” said Marsya Sibarani, Sumatra Program staff from WCS.
Beside mountain weasel, at least one other small carnivore record from survey is Collared Mongoose (Herpestes semitorquatus) was camera trapped through three photographs; a duo on February 7, 2013 and a single on August 6, 2013. Gunung Leuser National Park is nested within the vast Leuser Landscape in northern Sumatra (27,000 km²), selected for conservation and restoration of the Leuser biodiversity and ecosystem as mandated by the Presidential Decree No. 33/1998.