Mainland Clouded Leopard Classification - Neofelis Genus
Clouded leopard at Aizawl, Mizoram, India by Dr Raju Kasambe [CC BY-SA 4.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons

Panthera Lineage (7 cats)

The beautifully marked Mainland Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a tree-climbing forest cat species of mainland Southeast Asia. Unfortunately deforestation of the habitat they depend on has directly contributed to a population decline of at least 30% in just two decades (1993 - 2014).

Unique among all the wild cats, Clouded Leopards have the longest upper canines. They also have unusual cloud-like coat patterns, are very adept at climbing trees and do not hesitate to swim across water.

Key Facts about Clouded Leopards

~ Longest upper canines of all cats ~

~ Cloud like coat markings ~

~ Tree climber and swimmer ~

Classification

The Mainland Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) belongs to the genus Neofelis within the subfamily Pantherinae of the Felidae cat family. The full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Clouded Leopard species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)

Genus: Neofelis

Species: Neofelis nebulosa (Mainland Clouded Leopard)

Subspecies: None

Note: The scientific name of Mainland Clouded Leopard species, Neofelis nebulosa, is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Tiger Sticker
Tiger
Lion Sticker
Lion
Leopard Sticker
Leopard
Clouded Leopard Sticker
Clouded Leopard

Classification Chart

This Clouded Leopard classification chart shows where the species fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Neofelis genus.

Mainland Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.WildCatFamily.com.

Subspecies

There are no subspecies of Clouded Leopards according to the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017. Their research indicated that Neofelis nebulosa is monotypic and there is insufficient evidence for subspecies. The population in Taiwan is now deemed extinct.

Four Clouded Leopard subspecies (or lower classifications) were recognized in the past:

1. Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa (Mainland Asia)

2. Neofelis nebulosa diardi (Sumatra and Borneo) *

3. Neofelis nebulosa macrosceloides (Nepal, NE India, Bhutan)

4. Neofelis nebulosa brachyura (Taiwan)

*In 2006 a genetic analysis showed sufficient variation of the island species to be classed as a separate species Neofelis diardi. The coat patterns also differ with the mainland species (N. nebulosa) having large cloud markings with few inner spots and the island species (N. diardi) having smaller cloud markings with many inner spots.

Taxonomy Papers since 2017

Here is a list of taxonomy and related papers published on Clouded Leopards since the last Felidae revision in 2017. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

2022 Whole genome analysis of clouded leopard species reveals an ancient divergence and distinct demographic histories

Highlights

  • New whole genome assemblies are generated for the two species of clouded leopard

  • Genome-wide diversity analyses confirm lower genetic diversity in the island species
  • Ancient divergence between clouded leopard species predates that of leopard and lion

  • Demographic analyses reveal distinct historical trajectories of Ne for each species

Abstract

Similar to other apex predator species, populations of mainland (Neofelis nebulosa) and Sunda (Neofelis diardi) clouded leopards are declining. Understanding their patterns of genetic variation can provide critical insights on past genetic erosion and a baseline for understanding their long-term conservation needs.

As a step toward this goal, we present draft genome assemblies for the two clouded leopard species to quantify their phylogenetic divergence, genome-wide diversity, and historical population trends.

We estimate that the two species diverged 5.1 Mya, much earlier than previous estimates of 1.41 Mya and 2.86 Mya, suggesting they separated when Sundaland was becoming increasingly isolated from mainland Southeast Asia.

The Sunda clouded leopard displays a distinct and reduced effective population size trajectory, consistent with a lower genome-wide heterozygosity and SNP density, relative to the mainland clouded leopard.

Our results provide new insights into the evolutionary history and genetic health of this unique lineage of felids.

Madeline G. Bursell, Rebecca B. Dikow, Henrique V. Figueiró, Olga Dudchenko, Joseph P. Flanagan, Erez Lieberman Aiden, Benoit Goossens, Senthilvel K.S.S. Nathan, Warren E. Johnson, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, Paul B. Frandsen
Whole genome analysis of clouded leopard species reveals an ancient divergence and distinct demographic histories
iScience, Volume 25, Issue 12,2022, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.105647
Whole Genome analysis of clouded leopards
Graphical Abstract Bursell et al. 2002 - Genome Analysis of Clouded Leopard Species CC BY 4.0

Research

Here is a list of papers published on Clouded Leopards. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Neofelis nebulosa  in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.

Conservation

The global conservation status for the Clouded Leopard is Vulnerable (VU) and the latest assessment shows further declines due to exploitation and habitat loss.

The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of Clouded Leopards:

Clouded Leopard Working Group - Conservation Clouded Leopards, Asiatic Golden Cats and Marbled Cats - Asia

Clouded Leopard Project - Conservation and field research - Asia

Smithsonian Institute - Clouded Leopard reproduction research - USA

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

 International Clouded Leopard Day is on 4th August annually - get involved if you love this wild cat!

Facts and Information

The following organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Clouded Leopards:

Note: Many websites will still reference both species under 'Clouded Leopard' as much of the information is very similar.

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂
Clouded Leopard Print by Barbara Keith
Clouded Leopard Art by Barbara Keith

Clouded Leopard Tours

The following organizations offer tours to places in Asia where you are likely to see Clouded Leopards in their natural habitat. These companies offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible:

Always bear in mind that sightings of any particular animal in its natural environment are not guaranteed and the experience of guides will greatly enhance your success.

 

More Wild Cat Trips

Clouded Leopard Tours