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 ~
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)
Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)
Species: Neofelis diardi (Sunda Clouded Leopard)
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).
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:
1. Neofelis diardi diardi (Sumatra and Batu islands)
2. Neofelis diardi borneensis (Borneo)
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.
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:
- Cat Expeditions – Cats of Borneo Photo Tour
- Royle Safaris – Borneo Wildlife Tours
- Royle Safaris – Clouded Leopard Expedition
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.
Facts and Information
The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Sunda Clouded Leopards:
- Sunda Clouded Leopard Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Sunda Clouded Leopard Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Sunda Clouded Leopard Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Conservation & Research
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 Project - Clouded Leopard conservation and research - AsiaSmithsonian 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!