Clouded Leopards

The clouded leopard is more at home in the trees than on the ground and can move nimbly through the dense forests of southeast Asia and the eastern Himalayas. The exact numbers of this secretive cat are not known but they are believed to be in decline due to habitat loss and poaching.
Clouded leopard in forest setting rel=
Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) Kalimantan and Sumatra, Indonesia.
© WWF-Canon / Alain COMPOST

Subscribe to WWF

  • common title

    Clouded leopard; Panthèr longibande (Fr); Pantera nebulosa (Sp)

  • scientific name

    Neofelis nebulosa; Neofelis diardi (Bornean)

  • habitat

    Subtropical/Tropical Moist Forests

  • status

    IUCN: Vulnerable (VU C2a; (i)) CITES: Appendix I

    read more

  • population

    Estimated 10,000

  • weight

    Between 11 and 20 kg

Physical Description

The clouded leopard is named after the distinctive 'clouds' on its coat - ellipses partially edged in black, with the insides a darker colour than the background colour of the pelt.

The base of the fur is a pale yellow to rich brown, making the darker cloud-like markings look even more distinctive.

The limbs and underbelly are marked with large black ovals, and the back of its neck is conspicuously marked with two thick black bars.

The clouded leopard is a medium-sized cat, 60 to 110 cm long and weighing between 11 and 20kg.

It does, however, have an exceptionally long tail for balancing, which can be as long as the body itself, thick with black ring markings.

The clouded leopard has a stocky build and, proportionately, the longest canine teeth of any living feline.

Well adapted to forest life, the clouded leopard also has relatively short legs and broad paws which make it excellent at climbing trees and creeping through thick forest. It can climb while hanging upside-down under branches and descend tree trunks head-first.
Clouded leopard  / ©: WWF / Indonesian Forest Protection and Nature Conservation / Virginia Tech
Clouded leopard (Neofilis nebulosa). Clouded leopards are heavily hunted for their teeth, bones and unique coats.
© WWF / Indonesian Forest Protection and Nature Conservation / Virginia Tech

Priority species

The clouded leopard is a WWF priority species. WWF treats priority species as one of the most ecologically, economically and/or culturally important species on our planet. And so we are working to ensure such species can live and thrive in their natural habitats.

Where does the clouded leopard live?

The clouded leopard is found across Southeast Asia and the Himalayas in the following countries: southern China, Bhutan, Nepal, northeast India, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh. It is believed to be extinct in Taiwan, China.


View Clouded leopard range in a larger map

Habitat and ecology

Throughout its range, the clouded leopard spends most of the time in the tropical evergreen rainforests but can also be found in dry tropical forests and mangrove swamps. It has been found at relatively high altitudes in the Himalayas.
Priority region

The clouded leopard's habitat is part of the Borneo Forests region, which is a WWF global priority region.

What are the main threats to the clouded leopard?

Habitat loss and defragmentation

Deforestation in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia is the most serious threat to the clouded leopard. The species natural habitat has been fragmented and decreasing at a rate of 10% per year since 1997.

Poaching and illegal wildlife trade

The clouded leopard is widely hunted for its teeth and decorative pelt, and for bones for the traditional Asian medicinal trade. Clouded leopard pelts have been reported on sale in markets in China, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand. They have also been featured on the menu of restaurants in Thailand and China which cater to wealthy Asian tourists.

Human-leopard conflict

Like many other big cat species the clouded leopard is often killed as retaliation for killing livestock. Learn more about human-leopard conflicts.
Mr. Anusit Kanjanapol (standing, centre) leads the Royal Thai Customs Officers team who confiscated ... / ©: PeunPa Foundation
Mr. Anusit Kanjanapol (standing, centre) leads the Royal Thai Customs Officers team who confiscated 205kg of tiger, clouded leopard and panther carcasses which would have fetched US$17,650 on the black market.
© PeunPa Foundation

What WWF is doing

To protect clouded leopards and other big cats in Bhutan, WWF and local wildlife authorities are working together to establish anti-poaching units and strengthen anti-poaching law enforcement.

In addition to poaching, WWF and its partners are addressing human-wildlife conflict by setting up a compensation fund for local farmers whose livestock is often killed by tigers and leopards.

WWF projects that support this work:


A camera trap is set up / ©:  Sameer Singh/WWF AREAS
WWF and other organisations are using camera traps to better understand clouded leopards and assess their conservation status.
© Sameer Singh/WWF AREAS

How you can help

  • Adopt a clouded leopard (WWF-US) to support conservation work to protect this species.
     
  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.

    Bookmark and Share

Make a donation

Help us improve

Please send us comments about ways that we can improve the content on this page.
  • Did you find what you were looking for in this page?

  • Please enter the code pictured below into this field:*

    captcha
    reload image
  • * Required information
  • Did you know?

    • The clouded leopard has the proportionately largest canine teeth of any member of the feline family.
    • In 2007 it was found that the clouded leopard on Borneo is a different species to its relative on the Asian mainland.
    • The clouded leopard can climb while hanging upside-down under branches and descend tree trunks head-first.
  • Species & sub-species

    Currently three subspecies of the clouded leopard are recognized:

    • Neofelis nebulosa brachyurus found in Taiwan, China - thought to be extinct in the wild
    • Neofelis nebulosa macrosceloides found from Nepal to Burma
    • Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa found from Southern China to eastern Burma
    The Borneon clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) found in Sumatra, Borneo, and Java is a distinct species and not a sub-species.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required