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 ~
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)
Species: Neofelis nebulosa (Mainland Clouded Leopard)
Note: The scientific name of Mainland Clouded Leopard, 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).
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.
The last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 suggested that only the species Neofelis nebulosa is valid and there is insufficient evidence for subspecies. The population in Taiwan is now deemed extinct.
Conservation & Research
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 Project - Clouded Leopard conservation and 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!
Facts and Information
The following organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Clouded Leopards:
- Clouded Leopard Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Clouded Leopard Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Clouded Leopard Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Note: Many websites will still reference both species under 'Clouded Leopard' as much of the information is very similar.