Bornean Clouded Leopard

The Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), is a medium-sized wild cat found on Borneo, Sumatra and the Batu Islands in the Malay Archipelago. It was previously also found in Java, but no specimens have been recorded there since Neolithic times. Their preferred habitat is tropical and subtropical forest at altitudes up to about 6,500 ft. The habits of the Bornean Clouded Leopard are largely unknown because of the animal’s secretive nature. It is assumed that it is generally a solitary creature.

Its coat is marked with irregularly-shaped, dark-edged ovals which are said to be shaped like clouds, hence its common name. Though scientists have known of its existence since the early 19th century, it was positively identified as being a distinct species in its own right in 2006, having long been believed to be a subspecies of the mainland Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).

The Bornean Clouded Leopard has a stocky build, weighing about 55 pounds. It is the largest predator in Borneo. The majority of its prey lives in trees, necessitating its excellent climbing skills. With short, flexible legs, large paws, and keen claws, this big cat is very sure-footed. The canine teeth are two inches long, longer than those of any other extant feline. Its tail can grow to be as long as its body, aiding balance.

Because the Bornean Clouded Leopard’s habits make it difficult to study, exact figures of its population do not exist. However, recent studies estimate the population to be between 5,000 and 11,000 great cats left on Borneo, and 3,000 to 7,000 on Sumatra. In the countries of its native range, hunting of the Clouded Leopard is prohibited. However, these bans are very poorly enforced. A recent study conducted in 2006, focusing on classifying tracks found in Sabah (northeastern Borneo), placed an estimate on the population: 1,500″“3,200 cats in Sabah, with only 275″“585 of them in large protected reserves. Encroachment upon and complete destruction of the Bornean Clouded Leopards’ natural habitat, primarily by logging and the creation of rubber and palm oil plantations, continues to threaten the whole fauna of Borneo.