Cats of the Canopy

As the smallest of the big cats, clouded leopards have fallen through the cracks of mainstream conservation efforts. Because they have been overshadowed by other charismatic Asian megafauna, very little is known about their status on local or even regional scales. However, it is precisely their unique ecological and evolutionary characteristics that make clouded leopards a potential flagship species, and is why they represent S.P.E.C.I.E.S. as our logo. In fact, the clouded leopard may possibly be related to the saber-tooth cat!

S.P.E.C.I.E.S. is working to not only collect important baseline information on the 2 species of clouded leopards, but also to inform the general public about the clouded leopard. In particular, S.P.E.C.I.E.S. aims to publicize the major threat facing clouded leopards today: oil palm displacement of natural habitats. By donating to projects like Project Neofelis or Cameras4Conservation, people can help support clouded leopard conservation.

To learn more about the clouded leopard and S.P.E.C.I.E.S. efforts to conserve this unique species, read the latest article at Purr and Roar here.

Can Taiwan’s Formosan clouded leopard claw its way back from extinction?

Today, 2 species of clouded leopard roam throughout Asia: Neofelis nebulosa (clouded leopard), and Neofelis diardi (the Sunda clouded leopard). These species are rarely glimpsed in the wild, and are now at risk of extinction. Indeed, only 4 years ago, a third type of clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa brachyura (the Formosan clouded leopard), was declared extinct from its home in Taiwan. However, questions remain as to whether the Formosan clouded leopard ever existed at all.

No clouded leopard has been seen in Taiwan for decades. For 16 years, camera traps and snares were set up to try and capture evidence of their existence, but not a single leopard was found. Still, most biologists believe the Formosan clouded leopard existed as a subspecies or subpopulation of N. nebulosa.

Now, conservationists hope to return the clouded leopard to the island of Taiwan. Taiwan has suitable habitat to support clouded leopard populations, and S.P.E.C.I.E.S. is working to determine how locals would feel about this reintroduction.

To learn more about this unusual extinction story, read Post Magazine’s article here.