Bornean Clouded Leopard, Neofelis diardi, Discovered in 2006
With all our modern technological advances our world seems to be getting smaller and smaller every day. And despite all that, new species of animals are still being discovered. But to think that an animal as large as a leopard was discovered as recently as 2006, is quite amazing. The Bornean Clouded Leopard has been found to exist on Borneo, Sumatra, and the Batu Islands. This medium-sized wild cat has very distinctive dark edged fur patterns that are supposed to resemble clouds. Personally, I think you have to use your imagination.
The Bornean Clouded Leopard is a some what stocky cat weighing in at 55 pounds (25 kg) with comparatively short legs and big paws. From its nose to the base of its tail, it measures 21.7" - 43.3" (55 cm – 110 cm) long, and its extremely long tail measures another 29.5" - 35.4" (75 cm – 90 cm). It's tail can be longer than its body!
Not the Same Clouded Leopard
Until recently, it was considered to be the same big cat species as its cousin the mainland Clouded Leopard, Neofelis nebulosa. However, in 2006 it was decided that it was a separate species from the mainland clouded leopard. Because of its nocturnal habits, and its remote habitat location, it has been hidden from the scientific community.
The Bornean Clouded Leopard, Neofelis diardi, is smaller than its mainland relative; and has darker and smaller "cloud" markings, including distinct spots within each of the clouds. The Bornean Clouded Leopard also has two dark stripes running along its spine. Genetic and DNA testing has proven that many other differences also exist between the two big cats besides these visual differences.
Saber Tooth Tiger
The Bornean Clouded Leopard has very long canine teeth. Although 1/10 the size of a tiger, their canines are essentially the same size as the tiger's. Because of this unusual characteristic, it has been called a modern day sabre tooth tiger!
The Bornean Clouded Leopard is Borneo’s largest predator. This fact makes it even more amazing to not have been determined a unique species until 2006. It eats small mammals such as monkeys, deer and pigs. Reptiles and birds round out its diet. Its agile body, sharp claws and exceptional climbing ability has enabled it to take down prey even larger than itself. It is also renowned as a skilled hunter high in the forest canopy. Because of the Bornean Clouded Leopard's exceptionally long tail, and its short legs, it is very skilled in its ability to navigate through the tree tops. It is even able to climb down a tree head first. A very amazing feat for a large mammal!
The Bornean Clouded Leopard’s habitat is remote and densely vegetated tropical and subtropical forests at altitudes of approximately 6,562 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level.
Around two years of age, the female gives birth to a litter containing one to five kittens.
Like many large carnivores, the Bornean Clouded Leopard is struggling, mostly due to the destruction of its habitat (by logging and new rubber and palm oil plantations). Its existence is now considered to be threatened and also considered to be endangered. It is believed there are only 8,000 – 18,000 in existence, and their conservation is considered a top priority. Unlike other big cats such as larger leopards and mountain lions, the clouded leopard appears to be less able to adapt to a human presence; therefore, its existence will depend on large areas of habitat that is left undisturbed by humans.
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Copyright © 2012 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)
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