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Sunda and mainland clouded leopards

cheetah Offline
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#1

Share info,pics and videos about these two clouded leopards.
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Bangladesh TheHyenid76 Offline
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#2

Collection of information regarding the clouded leopard in Bangladesh from various literature.


The mainland clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is one of the eight extant wild cats in Bangladesh.

From 'Wild Cats of the World' by Dr Mel Sunquist. Distribution and the cause of decline of the clouded leopard in Bangladesh. (Pg 282)

"Loss of forest cover and hunting for skins has also contributed to the decline of the clouded leopard in Bangladesh. The cat now occurs in small numbers in the undisturbed forests of Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Skins are openly sold in the Chittagong market, where in 1983 a pelt brought U.S.$100. Khan believes that many of the skins sold in Chittagong represent animals caught in neighboring forests of Myanmar and India."

Description of the distribution of the clouded leopard in Bangladesh by Dr Monirul H. Khan. Photographic Guide To The Wildlife Of Bangladesh

"Vulnerable globally, Critically Endangered nationally. Rare. Occurs in SE and NE in mixed evergreen forests, and N in deciduous forests."


*This image is copyright of its original author

From 'A preliminary wildlife survey in Sangu-Matamuhuri Reserve Forest, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh' LINK

"Apart from tigers, we have documented the presence of six other wild cat species within the SRF. We have found camera trap images and recently hunted skins of leopard (Panthera pardus), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata), Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) and leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). Wild cat species are opportunistically hunted by locals primarily for subsistence."

[Table 1: A preliminary checklist of wildlife of Sangu Reserve Forest, an adjacent areas, observed by our parabiologists (Only species with photographic evidence were included in this checklist).]


*This image is copyright of its original author

This is a conversation between me and Shahriar Caesar Rahman (Founder of Creative Conservation Alliance) regarding the mammalian carnivora of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Me: "Do the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have viable breeding populations of leopards (clouded & common), bears (Sun & Asiatic), dholes and other small cats? What is being done to conserve them and do they have a future in such a overpopulated country like Bangladesh?"

Shahriar C. Rahman: "The term viable population is a bit complex and requires more rigorous scientific evidence. But in general, we do have populations of clouded leopard, Asiatic black bear, and sun bear in the CHTS. Clouded leopards and sun bears are found in forested and relatively pristine forest areas. Asiatic blacks are more common and can be found in degraded areas close to human settlements as well. Dholes are there too, but they used to be more common and are still found in forested areas. We also have leopards, and certainly, we have enough habitats for them in the CHTS, but for for some reason, they are rare compare to dholes, bears, and clouded leopards. We have a golden cat and a marbled cat in CHTS, too. We do have the potential to conserve these cats and large carnivores in the CHTS, especially in the Kassalong Reserve and Sangu-Matamuhuri areas. However, these forests are under severe threat, and no such actions have been taken to ensure the survival of these species yet."


*This image is copyright of its original author

It has been established that clouded leopards still persist in northeastern Bangladesh.

From 'A carnivore conservation initiative in north-eastern forest reserves of Bangladesh' LINK

"Bangladesh, one of the smallest Asian states, shelters 27 carnivore mammals—nearly half of the Indian Subcontinent Carnivora—in the mixed evergreen, trans-border forests of the northeastern region (IUCN Bangladesh 2015, Khan 2018). The reserves, the northern fringes of the Baramura-Atharamura-Longtharai Hills, are under formal protections encompassing two national parks, one wildlife sanctuary and two Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) to support many globally threatened carnivores such as Cuon alpinus, Neofelis nebulosa, Pardofelis marmorata, Prionailurus viverrinus, Helarctos malayanus, Ursus thibetanus, Arctictis binturong, etc. These forests also belong to the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot and are perishing fast. Encroachment, altercation, retaliatory killing and prey poaching are severe. Owing to research bias, systematic studies on the carnivores of north-eastern Bangladesh are nearly non-existent (Akash & Zakir 2020)."

[Clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa Critically Endangered in Bangladesh Population in eastern Bangladesh No concerted study]


*This image is copyright of its original author

Key points of this post:
  • Mainland clouded leopards still persist in the North and South east of Bangladesh
  • No concerted study have been done on them
  • There is no comprehensive book or paper concerning the mammalian fauna of Bangladesh
  • Information regarding carnivores (excluding the tiger to an extent) are scattered
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Bangladesh TheHyenid76 Offline
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#3

Two videos by WildCRU of Oxford University showcasing their research on mainland and sunda clouded leopards.









Statement by Dr Hasan Rahman (A Bangladeshi zoologist and conservationist) regarding the status of clouded leopards in Bangladesh:

"This photo is from our ongoing effort in the Chittagong Hills. Chittagong hills are the only place in Bangladesh that support breeding population of the clouded leopards. With proper protection we can ensure their long time survival in the region, where this population may play the role of the source population throughout the landscape larger than 1000 square kilometer between Bangladesh and Myanmar."


*This image is copyright of its original author
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Bangladesh TheHyenid76 Offline
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#4

Mysteries unveiled: exploring the enigmatic world of the clouded leopard in Manas

Found mainly in the dense forests of Southeast Asia, the clouded leopard is the smallest of the big cats and, perhaps, the least well-known. With its striking coat pattern adorned with cloud-like spots, this enigmatic cat possesses a unique blend of agility, strength and adaptability. It has earned the nickname ‘modern-day sabre-tooth tiger’ because it has the largest canines in proportion to its skull size among all cat species. A skilful arboreal acrobat, the clouded leopard excels in navigating treetops, utilizing its long tail for balance and its powerful limbs for leaping. Yet despite its mesmerizing beauty and undeniable charisma, the clouded leopard faces numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect this magnificent species and preserve its vital role in the delicate balance of our planet’s biodiversity.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Left: In the blink of an eye: a rare camera-trap image captures the elusive clouded leopard, providing a fleeting glimpse into its secretive world. Right: A trace of the elusive: a detailed pugmark left by a clouded leopard, offering a glimpse into its presence in the Garuchara riverbed of Bansbari Range. Photos: Wildlife Institute of India (left) and Saurav Chaudhary (right).


Manas National Park, nestled in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Assam, India, is a prime destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this biodiverse haven is renowned for its rich wildlife and breath-taking landscapes. The Park encompasses dense forests, lush grasslands and the majestic Manas River, which flows through its heart. Home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including the iconic Bengal tiger, greater one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephant and clouded leopard, Manas National Park offers visitors a chance to witness the marvels of pristine natural habitats. Exploring its intricate network of trails, many have commented that the symphony of surrounding sounds and sights creates an ethereal experience.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Left: The enchanted realm: a lush green habitat, the perfect haven for the elusive clouded leopard, where dense foliage and vibrant greenery create ideal conditions for this magnificent feline. Right: A haven of biodiversity: the moist mixed deciduous forest, a preferred habitat of the clouded leopard, teems with life as sunlight filters through the dense canopy, nurturing a diverse ecosystem. Photos: Saurav Chaudhary (left) and Urjit Bhatt (right).

A fascinating web of coexistence is woven between different species of carnivores in the Park, with iconic hunters such as the tiger, leopard, dhole, Asiatic black bear and clouded leopard all occurring within this rich landscape. The secret to their coexistence lies in the fact that each predator occupies a unique ecological niche within the shared habitat, exhibiting distinct adaptations and behaviours. The tiger reigns as the apex predator, commanding the forests with its strength and stealth, while the leopard, a master of camouflage, thrives in a blend of trees and more open terrain. The dhole’s social dynamics and hunting prowess showcase the power of teamwork, and the Asiatic black bear’s omnivorous diet and tree-climbing skills make it a versatile forest inhabitant. Finally, the elusive clouded leopard, with its arboreal prowess, gracefully traverses the treetops as it hunts for smaller prey. Together, these sympatric carnivores showcase the intricate web of interactions and interdependencies that shape the ecosystem, underscoring the need to protect their habitat in an effort to ensure their continued coexistence.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Coexistence among predators: the sympatric carnivores of Manas National Park, embodying the delicate balance of nature’s interconnected web of species. Clockwise from upper left: tiger, leopard, Asiatic black bear, dhole and clouded leopard. Photos: Wildlife Institute of India.

To support the conservation of the clouded leopard, between December 2016 and November 2019, we conducted an ecological study in Manas National Park, in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and the Science and Engineering Research Board, New Delhi. Prior to our study, most clouded leopard research in India was conducted as part of tiger-focused conservation projects. Our research, however, focused explicitly on clouded leopards, aiming to improve our basic knowledge of this species by determining its population density and habitat preferences. In addition, we were interested in how this felid manages to coexist with the other carnivores that share its habitat. Although there are some differences in the behaviour and diet of various predators, competition for prey may still occur, and many predators are known to hunt other meat-eaters—a phenomenon known as intraguild predation. Little is known about the details of how the carnivores of Manas National Park interact in time and space, and we wanted to find out more. 

We began our research by conducting a comprehensive questionnaire survey, gathering valuable information from forest officials regarding any sightings or indirect signs of the presence of clouded leopards. After collecting this baseline data, we hoped to catch a glimpse of the secretive felids ourselves, with the help of motion-detecting camera traps. Within a 1 km2 grid cell system covering moist mixed deciduous and semi-evergreen forests, we placed 473 camera-trap locations in an area covering 270 km2. Our target lived up to its reputation of being elusive: despite a colossal sampling effort of 11,388 trap-nights, we only recorded the clouded leopard 21 times at 17 locations, and were able to identify 12 individuals based on their unique coat pattern. Nonetheless, these data enabled us to estimate the species’ population density. With 0.5–6.3 individual clouded leopards per 100 km2, Manas National Park appears to host these cats at densities comparable to other areas within the species’ range. 

Our study provided some important insights into clouded leopard biology: these cats prefer habitats with lush, healthy vegetation, dense canopies and abundant small prey. Analysing our camera-trap images, we found that although there was overlap in the times of day when clouded leopards and other carnivores (including tigers, leopards, dholes and Asiatic black bears) were recorded, the peak times when the animals were most active varied between species. Looking at space use within the landscape, we found that the spatial distribution of clouded leopards appeared to be random, as if they play a mysterious game of hide-and-seek! No clear patterns of avoidance or co-occurrence with other predators were observed. 

Even though clouded leopards and larger predators share time of activity and show no clear pattern of spatial segregation, the clouded leopards might stay safe by utilizing vertical strata of the forest, i.e., escaping into treetops, when they encounter large predators. While our camera traps couldn’t capture their tree-top behaviour, it opens the door for exciting future research!


*This image is copyright of its original author

Unveiling the clouded leopard’s prey: Manas supports a high diversity of small prey species for clouded leopards. Clockwise from upper left: Himalayan crestless porcupine, Asiatic brush-tailed porcupine, rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, capped langur, red junglefowl, kalij pheasant, hispid hare and Indian hare. Photos: Wildlife Institute of India.

Our work demonstrates that Manas National Park is an important refuge for clouded leopards in north-east India because of its intact primary forests and the presence of numerous small prey species. Our findings point to some level of spatio-temporal segregation facilitating the coexistence of clouded leopards with other sympatric carnivores, suggesting a partial avoidance that could minimize competition as well as reduce the risk of intraguild predation.

Because of the elusive nature of the clouded leopard, sharing data on its biology requires a collaborative approach. With the publication of this article, we call on researchers and conservationists from around the world to come together, pooling their knowledge and resources to study and protect this enigmatic species. By collaborating and sharing data, we can deepen our understanding of the clouded leopard’s behaviour, habitat requirements, diet and population dynamics. This in turn will foster the creation of effective conservation strategies and ensure the long-term survival of these elusive creatures in the threatened forests of Southeast Asia.

Oryx Journal

Scientific Journal Reference:

Secrets of the clouded leopard: abundance, habitat use and carnivore coexistence in tropical forest of Manas National Park, Assam, India LINK

Abstract

The mainland clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa is categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and considered at high risk of extinction in the wild. Despite this, knowledge of its ecology and population status remains limited. We investigated the population density, habitat utilization and spatial and temporal ecology of the clouded leopard in Manas National Park, north-east India. We deployed camera traps across the forested habitats of Manas for 11,388 trap-nights, resulting in images of 12 clouded leopard individuals. The estimated population density was 1.73 individuals per 100 sq km and the relative abundance index was 0.18 per 100 trap-nights. The availability of small prey species and primary forests influenced clouded leopard habitat use significantly, highlighting the potential conservation importance of species such as hares, gallinaceous birds, porcupines and primates. We observed a high degree of temporal overlap (>0.70), with distinct activity peaks, between clouded leopards and sympatric carnivores. We observed no spatial co-occurrence pattern between clouded leopards and sympatric carnivores. This study contributes to our understanding of the mainland clouded leopard population and its behavioural ecology in Manas National Park.
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peter Offline
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HYENA

Yet another very interesting post about small wild cats in southern Asia. Much appreciated!
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