Clouded Leopard - South-East Asia

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 1, 2022, 11:48

India is a biodiversity hotspot, with a wide range of animal species found across the country's states and union territories. These are the emblems for a state or UT. Many previously unidentifiable animal species have recently been discovered in various sections of the nation, attracting the attention of environmentalists.

Clouded Leopard - World's Oldest Cat Species

The Clouded Leopard comes from its speckled fur, mimicking different cloud forms. The IUCN Red List classifies this animal as Vulnerable. Furthermore, it is Meghalaya's state animal. Only 9.44 per cent of the researched territory was deemed 'very' favourable for Clouded Leopards, according to a study undertaken in nine nations (Bhutan, Nepal, India, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar) (Neofelis nebulosa).

The Dampa tiger reserve in Mizoram was chosen as the research location in India. Dampa has one of the highest population densities of Clouded Leopards among the sites investigated. It has been included in India's Critically Endangered Animal Recovery Program, which helps with more excellent study and biodiversity conservation efforts.

Clouded Leopard Characteristics & Habitats

It is the world's oldest cat species, with a hyoid bone that aids purring.

Clouded Leopards may be found in South-East Asia's rainforests and drier woodlands. These cats are intriguing and secretive. They are, nevertheless, well-known for their adaptability.

They are the most arboreal of cats, leaping from tree to tree while balancing on their tail. Their life expectancy is between 13 and 17 years.

Their seats are the longest among cats, measuring 65 cm, and their canine teeth are the biggest, measuring up to 4 cm. Prey such as deer, monkeys, squirrels, pigs, and small birds make up a Clouded Leopard's diet. These creatures do not go on a hunt; instead, they consume what they can find.

In India, Where Can You See a Clouded Leopard?

  • Balphakram National Park, Meghalaya
  • Buxa National Park, West Bengal
  • Clouded Leopard National Park, Tripura
  • Dibrusaikhowa National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Kanchanjunga National Park, Sikkim
  • Manas National Park, Assam
  • Phawngpui National Park, Mizoram

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The Clouded Leopard - Human-Wildlife Conflict

In the North-Eastern states, there are a lot of human-wildlife conflicts. Maligaon is one of the places in Assam where the Clouded Leopard has been known to attack people. Furthermore, there are seven forest preserves in and around Guwahati where similar instances occur due to human encroachment on forest land. In 2018, India included the Clouded Leopard on its Critically Endangered Species Recovery Programs list.

The following factors influence the Clouded Leopard population -

  • Deforestation
  • Changing rainfall patterns
  • Human-animal conflict
  • Development projects
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Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat (IDWH)

It is a federally funded program that provides technical and economic help to states and local governments to maintain wildlife habitats.

Dampa, Mizoram, has the largest population of Clouded Leopards. The leopard's expansion is aided by the region's barren topography and lack of human presence. In 2018, India included the Clouded Leopard on its Critically Endangered Species Recovery Programs list. States are also given financial support for the migration of residents from restricted zones to other places.

The scheme is made up of three parts:

  • Protected Lands' Support (National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves & Community Reserves)
  • Outside of Protected Areas, Biodiversity Protection Many animal habitats are not part of the nature reserve network.
  • Critically endangered habitat and species recovery program.
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FAQs on Clouded Leopard

Q.1. Why do poachers hunt for Clouded Leopards?

Clouded Leopards are hunted for their bones, skins, and canines by poachers.

Q.2. What is the Clouded Leopard density in Dampa?

The Clouded Leopard density in Mizoram's Dampa Tiger Reserve is 5.14 per 100 square kilometres.

Q.3. What is the Protection status for Clouded Leopard?

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies this species as 'vulnerable.'

Q.4. What is the local name for the Clouded Leopard?

The Clouded Leopard is called "Khephak" in the Yimkhiung tribe's native dialect, "huge greyish cat."