The Clouded Leopard: The "Littlest" Big Cat
Turkish World Outreach, 508 Fruitvale Court, Grand Junction, CO 81504; TWOKirk@onlinecol.com
Over the past one hundred years, environments in central and southern Asia have
seen isolated populations of large felids such as the tiger (Panthera tigris),
the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), and the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx
jubatus), extirpated from over 90 percent of their former range. These cats were
endemic in diverse habitats until the advent of fireaarms led to their extirpation over
large areas by 1900. The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), the smallest
"big cat," has in recent decades suffered extensive losses in southeast Asia and
China due to habitat loss and paching. Immunological studies place Neofelis
within the larger Pantherine sub-family. Very few studies have been attempted of the
clouded leopard in the wild due to inaccessibility of the predator's tropical forest
habitat. Zoos around the world have had diffculty breeding the felid, and studies are
underway to determine stress factors in captive populations. The protection of habitat in
Borneo and elsewhere in southeast Asia is likely to be the most significant factor in
maintaining viable wild populations.
The presumed range of the clouded leopard stretches throughout
Southeast Asia, China, and into the Indian subcontinent.
Courtesy of the author, adapted from Nowell and Jackson(1996)
Captive clouded leopard at rest. Photo courtesy of the
Carnivore Preservation Trust
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