As for whether the cubs are solitary or group animals, I’ve learned that clouded leopards tend to be solitary in the wild. However, these two cubs stay together in their den, and so I consider them as part of a small group. Luckily, they’re easy to distinguish for reasons I’ve already covered, but my observations do cover the two of them as a whole. My reasoning is because these cubs are always together, and so their interactions with one another are a centerpiece of my notes and, indeed, the exhibit at the zoo.
Lastly, I chose to observe clouded leopards because I’ve always been fascinated with big cats. One of my original choices for the observation was the Sumatran tiger, but since tigers are so well-known across cultures while clouded leopards are more elusive, I felt that I would have more to learn by studying a more endangered cat. Not only that, but the chance to watch cubs grow over time seemed like an excellent opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up. As of now, I can safely say that I made the right choice.
They’ve been seen running down trees head-first, climbing on the underside of branches, and hanging upside down from trees (“Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebolosa),” ARKive). They are secretive animals and may take refuge in the trees to avoid being preyed upon by larger predators, such as tigers (“Neofelis nebulosa,” Animal Diversity Web).
This kind of representation isn’t exclusive to clouded leopards, either. In many animated films, big cats of all kinds are depicted as villains. For example, the 1999 film Tarzan, by Walt Disney Pictures, features a leopard by the name of Sabor, who violently murders both Tarzan’s family and the child of the two gorillas Kala and Kerchack. Unlike most of the animals, which are portrayed with human expressions and the ability to talk, Sabor is voiceless, depicted as a bloodthirsty monster and nothing more. She is later killed by the lead character, earning respect in the jungle.
Habitat: Clouded leopards tend to live in lowland rainforests and occasionally dry woodlands and forests. They may live at high elevations, such as 9000 feet in the Himalayan Mountains. Their range largely covers southern Asia and once ranged from China through Thailand, Borneo, and Indonesia, but it’s been shrinking due to habitat loss (“About the Clouded Leopard,” Clouded Leopard Project). Additionally, they may be found in Northwestern India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Nepal, and Bhutan. In forests, they may occupy areas up to 3000 feet in elevation and primarily use the trees for resting (“Neofelis nebulosa,” Animal Diversity Web).
Figure shows the scatter plot for the rear tracks. All tracks from both TS 1 and TS 4 form clusters, but are spatially separated in the scatter plots, suggesting that these track sets were left by two different clouded leopards. The tracks of TS 2, TS 5 and TS 6 intersected with each other and grouped together in space suggesting that those tracks sets, found at different locations and dates, were of the same individual. Since TS 3 consists of just one pugmark it is only found on figure , which shows the principal component analysis (PCA) of left front marks. The track from TS 3 is spatially separated in the scatter plot suggesting that this track was produced by a different clouded leopard. In summary, the track sets were probably formed by four different clouded leopards.
We currently have three clouded leopard females that we periodically attempt assisted reproductive techniques with, such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.
The track classification technique resulted in a calculated minimum number of four clouded leopards present in the surveyed area between March and August 2005. The results of the closure test (tracks: z = -0.118, p = 0.453) provided no evidence of violation of the closure assumption (Table ). The model selection algorithm of capture identified M0 as the most appropriate model for both analyses. We adhered to this suggestion and present population estimates under the M0 model (see discussion). The analysis determined average capture probabilities to be 0.06 and the estimated probability that a clouded leopard was captured at least once was 0.80 (Table ). We estimated five (± 2.26 SE) clouded leopards to be present in the research area on the basis of a capture-recapture analysis of the tracks. To estimate the true density we calculated an approximately 95% confidence interval. We used a range of 2 SE on the upper side of the point estimates, but we did not use 2 SE on the lower side of the point estimate, because a calculated number below the threshold of identified individuals would not be reasonable. Thus we set the number of differentiated individuals as the lower limit. We did not use the confidence interval calculated by CAPTURE, because the guidelines of CAPTURE noted that low capture probabilities will lead to extremely wide confidence intervals that hold little information on the true population size .
Clouded Leopard Loach (Vanmanenia crassicauda): This showstopper of a fish is an extremely recent addition to the aquarium trade and is very likely to become a highly sought after species. Hailing from a few river systems shared between Northern Laos and Vietnam, the extremely remote nature of these loaches’ means they are likely to remain a rarity in the hobby for some time. Details in the scientific literature regarding this species are scant, and the max size listed was 6.7 cm in the original description paper (Kottelat, 2000). The first fish available for export, however, are an impressive 8cm+, so it is likely this species grows to a more substantial size than once thought. Based on the collection area for these fish, it can be assumed that they prefer fast-moving, relatively cool water and any aquarist fortunate enough to get their hands on some would do well to try and replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible.
Based on the very rough density of nine individuals per 100 km2, we assume that at least all areas smaller than 350 km2 might be too small to contain a stable population of clouded leopards (> 50 individuals). Thus, only protected reserves larger than 350 km2 as well as reserves connected to others can be considered as potential clouded leopard refuges. Table shows the list and status of all these protected areas in Sabah. In total they comprise an area of about 30 000 km2, about 41 % of Sabah's land surface. The presence of clouded leopards is confirmed in approximately 25 % of Sabah based on the last faunal survey and direct observations (Fig. ). About 12 % of Sabah's forest reserves were not included in the last faunal survey, thus no information about the clouded leopard's status in these areas is available. Taking this into account, the potential distribution of clouded leopards is about 37 % of Sabah. Only six reserves are totally protected (Table ), covering an area of only 7 % of Sabah. One of these reserves, Crocker Range NP, is divided by a mountain range with elevations higher than 1500 m. Based on information of previous faunal surveys, clouded leopards in Borneo only populate areas below 1300 m . We believe that the areas in Crocker Range NP below 1300 m are too small and too fragmented to sustain a viable clouded leopard population. We completely excluded Kinabalu Park as a potential refuge for the same reasons. The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary consists of small forest fragments too small and isolated to sustain a viable clouded leopard population. Therefore Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and Crocker Range NP were only classified as totally protected reserve (TPR) b in figure . The last remaining four refuges (TPR a in figure ), covering only 5 % of Sabah, are isolated from each other with only one connection via commercial forest reserves between Maliau Basin and Danum Valley. Therefore, most of the potential distribution range of clouded leopards is located in commercial forest reserves, where selective logging and licensed hunting is permitted.
During the field work six track sets consisting of 1, 4, 8, 10, 13 and 14 pugmarks were recorded. All tracks were in good condition and were measured several times. Track set (TS) 3 consisted of only one mark but was found after a sighting of an adult male and could therefore be assigned to this individual. TS 1 and TS 4 were smaller in size. The last three TSs (TS 2, 5, 6) were larger and similar to the one track found after the above-mentioned sighting. The left front pugmarks of these TSs were always smaller in size than the right front tracks of the same TSs. Two of those three TSs, TS 5 and TS 6, were recorded on a mud-volcano (Fig. ). This mud-volcano is visited on a regular basis by many animals as a natural salt lick. TS 3 and TS 4 were recorded along the southbound road, whereas TS 1 and TS 2 were found along the old logging road running east to west. Although two transects followed existing jungle trails, which were supposed to be used by clouded leopards frequently, no tracks were spotted there. This might have been as a result of leaves covering most of the ground. In addition to tracks observed on the roads, eight TSs were detected along stream transects. These tracks were of poor quality and could neither be allocated without doubt to clouded leopards nor could be measured accurately. Thus these tracks had to be excluded from the analysis.