Sunda Clouded Leopard - Neofelis Genus
Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), Sabah, Malaysia By www.photosbypaulo.com [CC BY-SA 3.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons

Panthera Lineage

1. Tiger (Panthera tigris)

2. Lion (Panthera leo)

3. Jaguar (Panthera onca)

4. Leopard (Panthera pardus)

5. Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

6. Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)

7. Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)

The forest dependent Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) occurs on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra and is a sister species to the Mainland Clouded Leopard of Southeast Asia.

Habitat loss due to commercial logging and clearing of forests for oil palm plantations have directly contributed to a population decline of Clouded Leopards of more than 30% in only two decades (1993 - 2014).

Key Facts about Clouded Leopards

~ Longest upper canines of all cats ~

~ Cloud like coat markings ~

~ Tree climber and swimmer ~

Classification

The Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) belongs to the genus Neofelis within the subfamily Pantherinae of the Felidae cat family. The full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Sunda 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 diardi (Sunda Clouded Leopard)

Subspecies:

N.d. diardi

N.d. borneensis

Note: The scientific name for the Sunda Clouded Leopard species, Neofelis diardi, 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 Sunda Clouded Leopard classification chart shows where the species fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Neofelis genus.

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

Subspecies

There are two subspecies of Sunda Clouded Leopards:

1. Sumatran Clouded Leopard - Neofelis diardi diardi (Sumatra and Batu islands)

2. Bornean Clouded Leopard - Neofelis diardi borneensis (Borneo)

The clouded leopards on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo were first described in 2006 as Sunda Clouded Leopards when genetic analysis showed sufficient differentiation from Mainland Clouded Leopards. In addition, the Sumatran and Bornean cats were distinct enough to be described as separate subspecies:

 

Coat pattern differences between the Mainland and Sunda Clouded Leopards:

Mainland: larger cloud markings with few inner spots

Sunda: smaller cloud markings with many inner spots

 

Reference: Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group.

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 Sunda Clouded Leopards. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Neofelis diardi  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 Sunda Clouded Leopard is Vulnerable (VU) with a decreasing population primarily due to habitat loss.

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

Clouded Leopard Programme - WildCRU's long term research - Asia

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!

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

Clouded Leopard Print by Barbara Keith
Clouded Leopard Art by Barbara Keith

Facts and Information

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

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂

Trips to see Clouded Leopards

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
Royle Safaris
Borneo's Rare Mammals
Destination: Borneo
Next Tour: August 2025
Duration: 15 nights
Focus: Rare Mammals including Borneo's Cats

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Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)
Cat Expeditions
Cats of Borneo Photo Tour
Destination: Borneo
Next Tour: September 2025
Duration: 14 nights
Focus: Sunda Clouded Leopard and other Bornean Cats

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