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Clouded Leopards

Clouded Leopards are found in the Himalayas on the territory of China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. These animals are extinct from the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Only a few Clouded Leopards are kept in the world’s zoos. Very little is known about the species’ lifestyle and habits, as these animals are rarely seen in the wild. It’s still unknown whether the Clouded Leopard is a terrestrial or arboreal hunter. Perhaps, these animals are able to hunt both on the ground and in trees.

Clouded Leopards have a pale brown or yellow coat with large dark cloud-like markings. The typical size of the Clouded Leopard is about 36 inches in body length without the tail, which is about 30 inches long. A long tail assists in climbing and balancing on narrow branches. The legs of these animals are rather short; the paws are large. The claws are very sharp and strong to allow the Clouded Leopard to hang upside down. This species has the largest canines relative to the body size. The weight of the Clouded Leopard is about 28-30 pounds. Clouded Leopards specialize at small game: monkeys, porcupines, and birds. Some animals are able to kill a deer or a pig.

Clouded Leopards are considered to be a vulnerable species. In some areas, these animals are highly endangered; in others, their populations are stable. The problem is that it’s next to impossible to assess the population of the Clouded Leopard in remote areas. The main threat to their population is poaching for their pelts. Attractive fur of the Clouded Leopard was once very expensive in the West. Up to nowadays, it has ceremonial meaning in Taiwan. Deforestation and habitat destruction also influence the population of the Clouded Leopard.

The reproductive rate of the species is rather low. In fragmented populations, it’s difficult for a receptive female to find a mate. Inbreeding causes health problems, so-called breeding depressions. Clouded Leopard females give birth to up to five cubs every year. They are dependent upon the mother for about a year. The mortality among the young is very high, as young Clouded Leopards are not efficient hunters.

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