The importance of focusing on the clouded leopard population is highlighted by these gorgeous cubs.
As the forests are mercilessly exploited in Asia, so is the clouded leopard for its glorious coat. As the virgin tropical rain forest is cut down the population of the clouded leopard is rapidly diminishing as this is a forest dwelling cat of great beauty. There are two species of clouded leopard: Neofelis nebulosa (Clouded Leopard) and Neofelis diardi (Sunda Clouded Leopard). There are two types of place where the clouded leopard lives: the wild and in captivity.
Neofelis nebulosa (Clouded Leopard)
In the wild
The primary source for an assessment of the population of the clouded leopard, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Specices™ (the Red List) does not provide a figure for Neofelis nebulosa! We don’t know. We can speculate, no more. The Red List does say more work needs to be done to work out a figure for the population using camera traps and further research efforts.
It should be noted, however, that historically, estimates of wildcat populations have been well out, usually on the optimisitic side (too high). While we are killing the wildcats we still have a lot to learn about them. Perhaps they will become extinct before we have completed our research?
What do other sources tell us about the clouded leopard population? We can’t really rely on books because any estimates that they might contain become fairly rapidly outdated as the populations decline year on year.
The best book on wild cats, Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist, published 2002 (sometimes quoted by the Red List) say that, “little is known about the clouded leopard’s status in any part of its geographic range…”
The authors go on to explain how this cat hae been exploited commercially and perescuted. Trade is skins and deforestation are the main threats.
There are other sources. Wikipedia says, “The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that fewer than 10,000 mature individuals exist”. I didn’t see that figure on the IUCN website and in any case it will be lower now!
Another source says, it is below 10,000 mature breeding cats (src:http://www.animalinfo.org). This figure probably comes from the same source as the Wikipedia article.
Wild Cat Of The World says that this cat is “reasonable well represented in zoos” – 224 being held in 79 institutions worldwide. There were 86 in North American zoos (at 2002). This cat doesn’t breed well in zoos.
Because of the low and diminishing population it is classified by the Red List as Vulnerable:
Neofelis diardi (Sunda Clouded Leopard)
This wildcat lives on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The map below shows Borneo and the marker shows the Sabah region, one of the areas where this species of wild cat lives. In this region the Red List estimates that there are 1,500-3,200 individuals maximum (probably overestimate) at Dec. 2010.
The Red List has no population estimates for other areas of the Sunda clouded leopard range.
In Sumatra it is estimated that the population density is 29 adults per 100 km², from camera traps. It is speculated that the clouded leopard population in Sumatra is a lot lower than in Borneo.
The Sunda clouded leopard is also classified as Vulnerable by the Red List.