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.
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Clouded leopard; Panthèr longibande (Fr); Pantera nebulosa (Sp)
Subtropical/Tropical Moist Forests
Neofelis nebulosa; Neofelis diardi (Bornean)
IUCN: Vulnerable (VU C2a; (i)) CITES: Appendix Iread more
Between 11 and 20 kg
Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)
Snow leopard portrait (Panthera uncia)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like many other big cat species the clouded leopard is often killed as retaliation for killing livestock. Learn more about human-leopard conflicts.
What WWF is doing
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:
- Big cat protection in Bhutan
- Kayan Mentarang National Park, East Kalimantan
- Lower Mekong Dry Forests Ecoregion Action Programme
- Adopt a clouded leopard (WWF-US) to support conservation work to protect this species.
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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