Clouded Leopard

khao sokThe clouded leopard looks like one of the “big cats” in miniature, having the powerful, robust build of a large cat. It has a head and body length of 82 – 99 cm (32 – 39″) and weighs 11 – 19 kg (24 – 42 lb). Its coat is grayish or yellowish, with dark markings (“clouds”) in shapes such as circles, ovals, and rosettes. The forehead, legs, and base of the tail are spotted, and the remainder of the tail is banded. The tail is long, the legs are stout, and the paws are broad. The clouded leopard is most closely associated with primary evergreen tropical rainforest, but it also makes use of other types of habitat, such as relatively open, dry tropical forest, mangrove forest, secondary and logged forest, grassland and scrub.

The diet of the clouded leopard is thought to include a variety of arboreal and terrestrialvertebrates, such as orangutan, young sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer, bearded pig, palm civet, gray leaf monkey, and porcupine. Fish, birds and poultry are sometimes taken. The clouded leopard is highly adapted for an arboreal life, but it has also been observed exhibiting terrestrial behavior. Similarly, although it is generally considered to be primarily nocturnal, it is sometimes also active during the daytime. The clouded leopard swims well and has been found on small offshore islands. Clouded leopards are believed to be solitary animals except during the breeding season.

Deforestation, resulting from commercial logging and the growth of human settlements, is thought to be the foremost threat to the clouded leopard. Not only does deforestation remove the clouded leopard’s own habitat, but it reduces the number of prey animals. Hunting of this cat for its fur and teeth as well as its bones, which are prized in the traditional Asian medicinal trade, is another major threat. The clouded leopard has also been featured on the menu of restaurants in China and Thailand which cater to wealthy Asian tourists, and it is sometimes persecuted for killing livestock.