Lisa Putman

Joined November 2007

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The clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat found in the forests of Asia. Little is known about the wild behavior of clouded leopards due to their extremely secretive nature. Much of our understanding of this cat’s natural history and behavior is a result of observations of them in captivity.

While all species of cats are closely related and classified as one family, the Felidae, genetic research has shown the clouded leopard to be more closely related to the large cat species. For this reason, clouded leopards are considered a member of the Pantherinae – a subfamily of the Felidae family that also includes lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, and snow leopards. Clouded leopards are not a “type” of leopard as their name implies.

Recent genetic and morphological analysis has led researchers to conclude that there are two completely separate species of clouded leopards. In a study comparing differences in clouded leopard coat patterns and coloration throughout the cat’s range, researchers concluded that individuals found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra are markedly different from animals found on the Southeast Asian mainland. These observations have been supported by genetic testing that determined the two populations of clouded leopards are so distinct as to warrant classifying them as different species – as different from one another as a lion is from a tiger.

Clouded leopards primarily utilize lowland tropical rainforest habitats, but can also be found in dry woodlands and secondary forests. They have also been spotted in the foothills of the Himalayas at an elevation of 9000 feet. Range countries historically included most of Southeast Asia from Nepal and southern China through Thailand, Indonesia, and Borneo.

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For those of you who have the opportunity to travel to zoos in many locations, there is a link that tells the zoo’s with Clouded Leopards.

The Clouded Leopard is an endangered species. The clouded leopard is protected throughout most of its range. Deforestation is the principle
threat to the clouded leopard, although the seriousness depends upon further study of the species’ tolerance of various degrees of forest clearance. The clouded leopard is also widely hunted for its teeth and pelt and for bones for the traditional Asian medicinal trade. Although they are protected, clouded leopard pelts have been reported on sale in urban markets in many
Asian countries. This cat is thought to now be extinct in Taiwan due to hunting pressure. Clouded leopard cubs are sometimes captured and kept as pets in Asian households.

Be sure to check out these other wild cat images:

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