Clouded leopards going back to Taiwan?


This video is called Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).

From Wildlife Extra:

Clouded leopards could be reintroduced to Taiwan

The Formosan clouded leopard was hunted to extinction in Taiwan in the 1980s, but it might get a new start on the island in the future, according to Scientific American.

Two years ago, after a 13 year search, scientists concluded that the leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) had gone extinct in Taiwan.

But a new paper by the same scientists states the island’s ecology has improved so much since the leopards disappeared that they might once again thrive there.

Clouded leopards disappeared from Taiwan decades ago, probably in the 1980s after intense overhunting for their furs followed by destruction of their forest habitat and declining populations of the cats’ prey species.

However, Taiwan has been so successful in slowing deforestation and protecting its other wildlife over the past few decades that the island could once again support populations of leopards.

As Po-Jen Chiang of the Institute of Wildlife Conservation in Taiwan and his fellow authors point out, Taiwan banned commercial hunting in 1973 and stopped logging its natural forests in 1991.

Although poaching and habitat loss continue, populations of some mammalian species, such as the Formosan macaque and Reeves’s muntjac have grown – so much so that they are now considered pests on farmlands.

The authors suggest that lack of predation by the now-missing clouded leopards could have something to do with this overpopulation of some mammalian species.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s natural forests have had time to regenerate. The researchers concluded that the island now has enough broadleaf, conifer and cypress forests, along with natural vegetation to support the prey mammals.

All told, the researchers calculated that 24 per cent of Taiwan – more than 8,500 square kilometres – contains suitable habitat for between 500 and 600 clouded leopards.

The cats of mainland Asia would make strong candidates for reintroduction.

Genetic studies published in 2006 and 2011 indicate that the cats on Taiwan probably weren’t a unique subspecies after all, so mainland clouded leopards would not be out of place on the island.

The main clouded leopard species (N. nebulosa) is currently considered vulnerable to extinction, with a total population of fewer than 10,000 individuals and no populations larger than 1,000 animals.

Their habitats are “undergoing the world’s fastest regional deforestation rates” according to the IUCN Red List and trade in their skins and bones continues to devastate their populations. So, Taiwan could become a much-needed refuge for clouded leopards in the future.

6 thoughts on “Clouded leopards going back to Taiwan?

  1. Pingback: Conservation news from Cambodia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Clouded leopard cubs in India, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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