Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae

Scientific Name: Neofelis nebulosa
Species Authority: (Griffith, 1821)
Common Name(s):
English Clouded Leopard
French Panthère Longibande, Panthère Nébuleuse
Spanish Pantera Del Himalaya, Pantera Longibanda, Pantera Nebulosa
Taxonomic Notes: Classically considered a single species, the Clouded Leopard has recently been split into two species. Based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, microsatellites and morphology, Neofelis nebulosa is restricted to mainland Southeast Asia, and N. diardi is found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo (Buckley-Beason et al. 2006, Kitchener et al. 2006, Wilting et al. 2007, Eizirik et al. submitted).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C1+2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Sanderson, J., Khan, J.A., Grassman, L. & Mallon, D.P.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
The clouded leopard is forest-dependent, and its habitat is undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation rates (over 10% in the past ten years: FAO 2007). There are high levels of illegal trade in its skin and bones (Nowell 2007). Its total effective population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with no single population numbering more than 1,000 (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
Previously published Red List assessments:
2002 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Vulnerable (V)
1990 Vulnerable (V)
1988 Vulnerable (V)
1986 Vulnerable (V)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The clouded leopard is found from the Himalayan foothills in Nepal through mainland Southeast Asia into China (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The clouded leopard historically had a wide distribution in China, south of the Yangtze, but recent records are few, habitat is fast disappearing, illegal hunting of this species has been prolific and its current distribtution in China is poorly known (Wozencraft et al. 2008). The clouded leopard is extinct on the island of Taiwan (Anon. 1996). It still occurs marginally in Bangladesh: Khan (2004) reported that local people still see clouded leopards in the mixed-evergreen forests of the northeastern and southeastern parts of the country.

The clouded leopards of Sumatra and Borneo were recently diagnosed as a separate species Neofelis diardi (Buckley-Beason et al. 2006, Kitchener et al. 2006, Eizirik et al. submitted), the Sundaland clouded leopard. Sundaland refers to the Malay peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java. Clouded leopards do not occur on Java. Because of limited samples from Peninsular Malaysia, it is unclear which species of clouded leopard occur here - on the basis of a single skin, Kitchener et al. (2006) ascribed Peninsular Malayasia to the mainland clouded leopard, but indicated that more samples were needed for confirmation.

The map shows range within forest cover (European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2003) to reflect patchiness caused by deforestation upon recommendation of the assessors (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007).
Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Regionally extinct:
Taiwan, Province of China
Upper elevation limit (metres): 3000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The clouded leopard is most strongly associated with primary tropical forest which is rapidly disappearing across its range (Nowell and Jackson 1996), and clouded leopard skins have been observed in large numbers in illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia (Nowell 2007). Increasing use of camera traps has helped to better document its distribution and recent research efforts should help improve understanding of its population status (Grassman et al. 2005, Austin et al. 2007).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The clouded leopard is intermediate in size between large and small cats, with wild females from Thailand weighing 11.5 (Austin and Tewes 1999) to 13.5 kg (Grassman et al. 2005), and males 16 (Grassman et al. 2005) to 18 kg (Austin and Tewes 1999). Its coat is patterned with distinctive large cloud shaped markings, its canines are exceptionally elongated, as is its tail - for a large cat, the clouded leopard is highly arboreal (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). They are strongly associated with forest habitat, particularly primary evergreen tropical rainforest, but there are also records from dry and deciduous forest, as well as secondary and logged forests. They have been recorded in the Himalayas up to 2,500 m and possibly as high as 3,000 m. Less frequently, they have been found in grassland and scrub, dry tropical forests and mangrove swamps (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Radio-tracking studies in Thailand have showed a preference for forest over more open habitats (Austin et al. 2007).

A study in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park found that clouded leopards preyed upon a variety of arboreal and terrestrial prey, including hog deer, slow loris, bush-tailed porcupine, Malayan pangolin and Indochinese ground squirrel (Grassman et al. 2005). Other observations include mainly primate prey, but also muntjac and argus pheasant (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Clouded leopards are primarily nocturnal, with crepuscular activity peaks (Grassman et al. 2005, Austin et al. 2007).

Two radio-telemetry studies in different parks in Thailand have found that adult male and female clouded leopards had similar home range sizes between 30-40 km² in size (95% fixed kernel estimators), with smaller intensively used core areas of 3-5 km² (Grassman et al. 2005, Austin et al. 2007). While both studies found substantial home range overlap between males and females, as is typical of most felids, Grassman et al. (2005) also found that the ranges of their two radio-collared males overlapped by a significant amount (39%). Although both studies found similar home ranges, clouded leopards in Phu Khieu National Park travelled approximately twice the average daily distance (average 2 km) than clouded leopards in Khao Yai National Park (Grassman et al. 2005, Austin et al. 2007).

Clouded leopards may occur at higher densities where densities of the larger cats, tigers and leopards, are lower (Lynam et al. 2001, Grassman et al. 2005, Rao et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Clouded leopards prefer closed forest (Grassman et al. 2005, Austin et al. 2007), and their habitat in Southeast Asia is undergoing the world's fastest deforestation rate (1.2-1.3% a year since 1990: FAO 2007).

The clouded leopard is hunted for the illegal wildlife trade - large numbers of skins have been seen in market surveys, and there is also trade in bones for medicines, meat for exotic dishes and live animals for the pet trade. Wild animals are likely the primary source, but there is also some illegal trade from captive animals (Nowell 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix I and protected by national legislation over most of its range (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Hunting is banned in Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, and Viet Nam, and hunting regulations apply in Lao PDR (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs in many protected areas.

Citation: Sanderson, J., Khan, J.A., Grassman, L. & Mallon, D.P. 2008. Neofelis nebulosa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T14519A4440819. . Downloaded on 09 October 2015.
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