Clouded Leopards

By Shravani Pothini Balaji

Introduction

Imagine yourself in the forests of Thailand. Suddenly, you trip over a dead log. You notice a clouded leopard in the distance, however you do not go near because you know that it is best to stay a distance away from the clouded leopard. Suddenly, a man comes and shoots the feline. You stare in awe. Why did this man kill this magnificent creature? That it is the question raised with many wildlife experts when poachers kill clouded leopards. These cats are known to be endangered and it is quite rare to see these species lingering in the forests of Thailand. When I started this presentation, my driving question was, how can I create a presentation that will create awareness of clouded leopards? My main purpose of this presentation is not only to provide a few facts on the clouded leopard but to also create awareness of clouded leopard being endangered. Why? Well, its not only my fondness of this animal, but also because I want to prevent the species from dying out. When one species are gone, all of the species living in that area gets affected in some way as well.

Types of Clouded Leopards

So, in order for me to talk about my topic, you need to know which clouded leopard I'm talking about! So there are two unique types of clouded leopards: neofelis nebulosa and neofelis diardi . We will be talking about the neofelis nebulosa. They both are clouded leopards, however they have differences that make them unique and that's the main reason why they were separated into two types. There are more clouded leopards that go under these classifications, however to stay brief we just listed two of the classifications above. They still are part of the family, neofelis, which many other animals like the tiger and the snow leopard go under.

Neofelis Diardi

More darker spots and fur.
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Neofelis Nebulosa

More lighter spots and fur.
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Physical Characteristics and the Lifespan of the Clouded Leopard

The clouded leopard is known mainly for its beautiful fur . It's fur consists of dark clouded spots with a background from pale yellow to brown. Its body is usually 3 ft. long and its tail is 2.5 ft. long. It's claws are so helpful that it allows this feline to hang from a tree with a sturdy grip. However, with all the great features of an animal, this cat is also a great runner, as well. The clouded leopard's average speed is 45 mph.


Clouded leopards can live up to 17 years in captivity, however no one knows for sure how long a clouded leopard lives in the wild

Clouded Leopard Diet

The clouded leopard usually eats monkeys, pigs, cattle, goats, deer, and porcupine.

Clouded Leopard Behavior

Clouded leopards are very shy animals. They are nocturnal and hunt in the night, that's why most pictures of clouded leopards in the wild are taken in the night.

The Clouded Leopard's Habitat

The clouded leopard usually lives in lowland tropical rain forests, however they can also be found in dry woodlands and even secondary forests . They live throughout the countries of the Himalayas, Southern China, and the peninsula of Malaysia, and is believed to be extinct in Taiwan.
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Clouded Leopard's Breeding

Clouded leopards get matured at the age of 2. Clouded leopards are not limited to mating in a certain month, however in captivity mating season goes from December through March. They have a gestation period(pregnancy) of 85-93 days and usually produce 2 cubs, however the range of cubs would be 1-5 cubs per litter.

Endangered

Why are these creatures endangered? Clouded leopards are endangered because of poaching, deforestation, and captivity, however there are many more reasons such as the fact of clouded leopards killing livestock for food, and then ranchers kill these animals. The below sections will explain in further detail about the three major reasons.


Poaching- Clouded leopards are worth $17,000 on the black market. Their bones are used in many traditional Chinese and Thai medicines. Their fur is used for clothing because of the authentic clouded spots. Last but not least, the meat is served in many Thai and Chinese restaurants for the wealthy .



Deforestation- The clouded leopard lives in the rainforest of Thailand and China. Because of the growth of these countries, they cut down more trees leaving the clouded leopards' habitat destroyed. The clouded leopard has no shelter, and therefore cannot survive.



Captivity-Though the clouded leopard is known to live longer in captivity reproduction is not successful. The reproduction rate is only 20% successful. Researchers are still trying to find out the unusual behavior with the male, when the female is put in the cage. What do I mean? The males get aggressive when the female is put in the cage together, and ends up trying to kill the female.According to Joe Gale,a clouded leopard expert form the Smithsonian National Zoo, "I first got involved in clouded leopards , actually is the first year I drived to the national zoo, and that was 1980. It was difficult to breed them then and it's still difficult to breed them now." She and her group of researchers are trying to breed the clouded leopards and identify the unusual behavior.

In my opinion, I believe that clouded leopards are endangered because of human actions. I strongly believe that with a helping hand, we may be able to stop these irresponsible actions. Additionally, we can start tracking poaching areas and ban the use of clouded leopard meat in Chinese and Thai restaurants, by sending spies, to these smuggling areas. Only a slim percent of the causes of clouded leopards being endangered are caused by natural events, so we cannot leave them to extinct. Furthermore, I believe with new technology we may be able to save the clouded leopard from being extinction.
After viewing this video, I realized how endangered this creature must have been. This video was important because it teaches how our fellow people are killing these animals for money and not considering how important they are in reality. Furthermore, I believe that the video has gave info that its not only people's greed for money that clouded leopards get hunted, but also poor government and poverty that leads to these decisions. At the end, I just hope the mission to save clouded leopards and other endangered species succeeds.
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As you can see, in 1965 there used to be 16, 00 clouded leopards, however in 2005 there were only 10, 000 left, and since then this feline's population has been declining.

Clouded Leopard Facts

-The clouded leopard is not an actual leopard, though it is relative to leopards

- The clouded leopard's population is not known for sure by many researchers because it is very rare to see these mammals

-Researchers and scientists are modifying the genetics of clouded leopards in captivity because of the aggressive behavior of the male clouded leopard when the female is put in the cage

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Help fight with WWF Thailand and WWF China to stop clouded leopards from extincting by donating money. It's not too late to save these creatures!
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The realm of the clouded leopard lies in your hands!