The clouded leop­ard is named after the dis­tinc­tive ‘clouds’ on its coat — ellipses par­tially edged in black, with the insides a darker colour than the pale yellow/​brown back­ground colour of the pelt. The clouded leop­ard, despite its name, is not closely related to the other Pan­thera cats. It is suf­fi­ciently dis­tinct from other mem­bers of the Fel­i­dae fam­ily, due mainly to the unique shape of its skull, to be placed in a sep­a­rate genus — Neo­fe­lis. And mol­e­c­u­lar stud­ies sug­gest that the clouded lep­oard appeared much ear­lier dur­ing evo­lu­tion than the Pan­thera cats. The under­sides and short, stout legs are usu­ally spot­ted and the head and neck streaked with black/​dark brown. Per­haps the most remark­able fea­ture of clouded leop­ards is that, in pro­por­tion to their body size, they pos­sess the largest canines of all the cats.

It is an extremely agile climber, aided by the bal­anc­ing effect of its excep­tion­ally long tail, often equiv­a­lent to the body length, and sup­ple ankle joints. In cap­tiv­ity the clouded leop­ard has been observed hang­ing from over­hang­ing branches by its rear legs. A sur­vey team in Sabah and Sarawak, in 1986, con­cluded that it is not truly arbo­real, but used trees in pri­mary for­est as day­time rest sites. It trav­els mostly on the ground they think, as move­ment on the ground is faster and more efficient.

The diet of the clouded leop­ard is thought to include a vari­ety of arbo­real and ter­res­trial ver­te­brates, such as orang utan, young sam­bar deer, bark­ing deer, mouse deer, bearded pig, palm civet, gray leaf mon­key, and por­cu­pine. Fish, birds and poul­try are some­times taken. Although it is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be pri­mar­ily noc­tur­nal, it is some­times also active dur­ing the day­time. The clouded leop­ard swims well and has been found on small off­shore islands. Clouded leop­ards are believed to be soli­tary ani­mals except dur­ing the breed­ing season.

Clouded leopard

Pop­u­la­tion size & trend

Esti­mated pop­u­la­tion size:less than 10,000


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Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.


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