Clouded Leopard photo: Cathleena Beams via flickr.
The last time anyone saw a wild clouded leopard in Bangladesh was in 2005, and the time before that in 1992. That is, until a few weeks ago when villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of the country (on the border of Burma and the India state of Mizoram) captured one. AFP describes what happened:Apparently the villagers stumbled upon a mother clouded leopard and her two cubs eating a monkey and managed to capture one of the cubs. They caged the three-month old animal for several weeks before being convinced by conservationists to release it back into the wild -- normally they would have just sold the cat.
Prof. Anwarul Islam of the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh described the incident as "tremendous news" as the clouded leopard was thought extinct in the country, a victim of habitat loss.
Effective Population of Less Than 10,000 - From Nepal to Taiwan
Named after the distinctive clouds on its coat, the clouded leopard is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and selling of the cat is prohibited under CITES. It is about 60cm to one meter in length and weighs up to 23 kilograms.
There are currently three recognized subspecies of the clouded leopard occupying a range from Nepal to China, and the island of Taiwan -- though the Taiwan subspecies is likely now extinct.
The total effective population size across the entire range is estimated to be less than 10,000 mature individuals.
Habitat Loss, Trade in Body Parts Primary Threats
The primary threat to the clouded leopard is deforestation from logging and growth of human settlements which encroach into these areas. Additionally, the cat's pelt is trade, as are its bones which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Furthermore the clouded leopard occasionally appears on restaurant menus that cater to wealthy Asian tourists in Thailand and China.
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