Sunda clouded leopard

The Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) is a medium-sized wild cat native to Borneo and Sumatra. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2015, as the total effective population probably consists of fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend. On both Sunda islands, it is threatened by deforestation.[1]

In 2006, it was classified as a species, distinct from the clouded leopard in mainland Southeast Asia.[2] Its fur is darker with a smaller cloud pattern.[3][4]

It is also known as the Sundaland clouded leopard, Enkuli clouded leopard,[1] Diard's clouded leopard,[5] and Diard's cat.[6]

Sunda clouded leopard
Temporal range: Early Pleistocene to recent
Borneo clouded leopard
A Bornean clouded leopard, lower Kinabatangan River, eastern Sabah, Malaysia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Neofelis
N. diardi
Binomial name
Neofelis diardi
(G. Cuvier, 1823)

N. d. diardi (Cuvier, 1923)
N. d. borneensis Wilting, Christiansen, Kitchener, Kemp, Ambu and Fickel, 2007

Sunda-Clouded-leopard distribution
Distribution of Sunda clouded leopard


The Sunda clouded leopard is overall grayish yellow or gray hue. It has a double midline on the back and is marked with small irregular cloud-like patterns on shoulders. These cloud markings have frequent spots inside and form two or more rows that are arranged vertically from the back on the flanks.[3] It has a stocky build and weighs around 12 to 26 kg (26 to 57 lb). Its canine teeth are 2 in (5.1 cm) long, which, in proportion to the skull length, are longer than those of any other living cat. Its tail can grow to be as long as its body, aiding balance. It is the largest cat in Borneo.

It can purr as its hyoid bone is ossified. Its pupils contract to vertical slits.[7]

Distribution and habitat

The Sunda clouded leopard is restricted to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In Borneo, it occurs in lowland rainforest, and at lower density in logged forest below 1,500 m (4,900 ft). In Sumatra, it appears to be more abundant in hilly, montane areas. It is unknown if it still occurs on the Batu Islands close to Sumatra.[1]

Between March and August 2005, tracks of clouded leopards were recorded during field research in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah. The population size in the 56 km2 (22 sq mi) research area was estimated to be five individuals, based on a capture-recapture analysis of four confirmed animals differentiated by their tracks. The density was estimated at eight to 17 individuals per 100 km2 (39 sq mi). The population in Sabah is roughly estimated at 1,500–3,200 individuals, with only 275–585 of them living in totally protected reserves that are large enough to hold a long-term viable population of more than 50 individuals.[8] Density outside protected areas in Sabah is probably much lower, estimated at one individual per 100 km2 (39 sq mi).[9]

In Sumatra, it was recorded in Kerinci Seblat, Gunung Leuser and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks.[10][11][12] It occurs most probably in much lower densities than on Borneo. One explanation for this lower density of about 1.29 individuals per 100 km2 (39 sq mi) might be that on Sumatra it is sympatric with the tiger, whereas on Borneo it is the largest carnivore.[13]

Clouded leopard fossils were excavated on Java, where it perhaps became extinct in the Holocene.[14]

Ecology and behaviour

The habits of the Sunda clouded leopard are largely unknown because of the animal's secretive nature. It is assumed that it is generally solitary. It hunts mainly on the ground and uses its climbing skills to hide from dangers.

Evolutionary and taxonomic history

Pl9 rimau dahan(jardine)
Illustration published 1834 in William Jardine's The Natural History of The Feline

The species was named Felis diardi in honor of the French naturalist and explorer Pierre-Médard Diard by Georges Cuvier in 1823, based on a drawing and skin allegedly from Java.[15] In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Sunda clouded leopard was regarded as a subspecies of the clouded leopard, namely Neofelis nebulosa diardi. Results of genetic analysis of hair samples from Neofelis nebulosa and Neofelis diardi showed that the two taxa diverged 1.4 million years ago, after having used a now submerged land bridge to reach Borneo and Sumatra from mainland Asia.[2]

Results of a morphometric analysis of the pelages of 57 clouded leopards sampled throughout the genus' wide geographical range indicated that there are two distinct morphological groups, differing primarily in the size of their cloud markings.[3] DNA samples from the Bornean and mainland Asia populations were used in molecular genetic analyses, revealing differences in mtDNA, nuclear DNA sequences, microsatellite and cytogenetic variation. Thirty-six fixed mitochondrial and nuclear nucleotide differences, and 20 microsatellite loci with nonoverlapping allele-size ranges distinguished the populations — a degree of differentiation equivalent to, or greater than, comparable measures among the Panthera species — and strongly support a species-level distinction between Neofelis nebulosa and Neofelis diardi.[2][3]

In December 2006, the genus Neofelis was reclassified as comprising two distinct species:[2][3]

Molecular, craniomandibular and dental analysis indicates distinction of the Sunda clouded leopard in two subspecies with separate evolutionary histories:[16]

Both populations are estimated to have diverged from each other during the Middle to Late Pleistocene. The split of these two Sunda clouded leopard subspecies corresponds roughly with the catastrophic super-eruption of the Toba Volcano in Sumatra 69,000–77,000 years ago. A probable scenario is that Sunda clouded leopards from Borneo recolonized Sumatra during periods of low sea levels in the Pleistocene, and were later separated from their source population by rising sea levels.[16]


Riau deforestation 2006
Deforestation in Sumatra

Sunda clouded leopards being strongly arboreal are forest-dependent, and are increasingly threatened by habitat destruction following deforestation in Indonesia as well as in Malaysia.[1]

Since the early 1970s, much of the forest cover has been cleared in southern Sumatra, in particular lowland tropical evergreen forest. Fragmentation of forest stands and agricultural encroachments have rendered wildlife particularly vulnerable to human pressure.[17] Borneo has one of the world's highest deforestation rates. While in the mid-1980s forests still covered nearly three quarters of the island, by 2005 only 52% of Borneo was still forested. Both forests and land make way for human settlement. Illegal trade in wildlife is a widely spread practice.[18]

The population status of Sunda clouded leopards in Sumatra and Borneo has been estimated to decrease due to forest loss, forest conversion, illegal logging, encroachment, and possibly hunting. In Borneo, forest fires pose an additional threat, particularly in Kaltim and in the Sebangau National Park.[19]

There have been reports of poaching of Sunda clouded leopards in Brunei's Belait District where locals are selling their pelts at a lucrative price.[20]


Neofelis diardi is listed on CITES Appendix I, and is fully protected in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. Sunda clouded leopards occur in most protected areas along the Sumatran mountain spine and in most protected areas on Borneo.[1]

Since November 2006, the Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project based in the Danum Valley Conservation Area and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve aims to study the behaviour and ecology of the five species of Bornean wild cat — bay cat, flat-headed cat, marbled cat, leopard cat, and Sunda clouded leopard — and their prey, with a focus on the clouded leopard; investigate the effects of habitat alteration; increase awareness of the Bornean wild cats and their conservation needs, using the clouded leopard as a flagship species; and investigate threats to the Bornean wild cats from hunting and trade in Sabah.[21]

The Sunda clouded leopard is one of the focal cats of the project Conservation of Carnivores in Sabah based in northeastern Borneo since July 2008. The project team evaluates the consequences of different forms of forest exploitation for the abundance and density of felids in three commercially used forest reserves. They intend to assess the conservation needs of these felids and develop species specific conservation action plans together with other researchers and all local stakeholders.[22]


The scientific name of the genus Neofelis is a composite of the Greek word νεο- meaning "new, fresh, strange", and the Latin word feles meaning "cat", so it literally means "new cat."[23][24]

The Indonesian name for the clouded leopard rimau-dahan means "tree tiger" or "branch tiger".[25]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hearn, A.; Ross, J.; Brodie, J.; Cheyne, S.; Haidir, I. A.; Loken, B.; Mathai, J.; Wilting, A.; McCarthy, J. (2016). "Neofelis diardi". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T136603A97212874. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T136603A50664601.en.
  2. ^ a b c d Buckley-Beason, V. A.; Johnson, W. E.; Nash, W.G.; Stanyon, R.; Menninger, J. C.; Driscoll, C. A.; Howard, J.; Bush, M.; Page, J. E.; Roelke, M. E.; Stone, G.; Martelli, P.; Wen, C.; Ling, L.; Duraisingam, R. K.; Lam, V. P.; O'Brien, S. J. (2006). "Molecular Evidence for Species-Level Distinctions in Clouded Leopards". Current Biology. 16 (23): 2371–2376. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.08.066. PMC 5618441. PMID 17141620.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kitchener, A. C.; Beaumont, M. A.; Richardson, D. (2006). "Geographical Variation in the Clouded Leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, Reveals Two Species". Current Biology. 16 (23): 2377–2383. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.066. PMID 17141621.
  4. ^ Kitchener, A. C.; Breitenmoser-Würsten, C.; Eizirik, E.; Gentry, A.; Werdelin, L.; Wilting, A.; Yamaguchi, N.; Abramov, A. V.; Christiansen, P.; Driscoll, C.; Duckworth, J. W.; Johnson, W.; Luo, S.-J.; Meijaard, E.; O’Donoghue, P.; Sanderson, J.; Seymour, K.; Bruford, M.; Groves, C.; Hoffmann, M.; Nowell, K.; Timmons, Z.; Tobe, S. (2017). "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group" (PDF). Cat News (Special Issue 11): 65−66.
  5. ^ Sunquist, F.; Sunquist, M. (2014). "Clouded leopard". The Wild Cat Book: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Cats. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 61−68. ISBN 978-0-2261-4576-1.
  6. ^ Beolens, B.; Watkins, M.; Grayson, M. (2009). "Diard". The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-8018-9533-3.
  7. ^ Guggisberg, C.A.W. (1975). "Clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa (Griffiths, 1821)". Wild cats of the World. New York: Taplinger Publishing. pp. 125–130. ISBN 978-0-8008-8324-9.
  8. ^ Wilting, A.; Fischer, F.; Abu Bakar, S. & Linsenmair, K. E. (2006). "Clouded leopards, the secretive top-carnivore of South-East Asian rainforests: their distribution, status and conservation needs in Sabah, Malaysia". BMC Ecology. 6: 16. doi:10.1186/1472-6785-6-16. PMC 1654139. PMID 17092347.
  9. ^ Wilting, A.; Mohamed, A.; Ambu, L. N.; Lagan, P.; Mannan, S.; Hofer, H. & Sollman, R. (2012). "Density of the Vulnerable Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi in two commercial forest reserves in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo". Oryx. 46 (3): 423–426. doi:10.1017/S0030605311001694.
  10. ^ Holden J. (2001). "Small cats in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia: evidence collected through photo-trapping". Cat News (35): 11–14.
  11. ^ Pusparini, W., Wibisono, H.T., Reddy, G.V. , Tarmizi, Bharata, P. (2014). "Small and medium sized cats in Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia". Cat News (Special issue 8): 4–9.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ McCarthy, J.L., Wibisono, H.T., McCarthy, K.P., Fuller, T.K. and Andayani, N. (2015). "Assessing the distribution and habitat use of four felid species in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia". Global Ecology and Conservation 3. 3: 210−221. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2014.11.009.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ Hutujulu, B.; Sunarto, Klenzendorf, S.; Supriatna, J.; Budiman, A. & Yahya, A. (2007). "Study on the ecological characteristics of clouded leopard in Riau, Sumatra". In J. Hughes and M. Mercer. Felid Biology and Conservation: Programme and Abstracts. An International Conference, 17–20 September 2007, Oxford. Oxford: Oxford University, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. pp. 17−21.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  14. ^ Meijaard, E. (2004). "Biogeographic history of the Javan leopard Panthera pardus based on a craniometric analysis". Journal of Mammalogy. 85 (2): 302–310. doi:10.1644/BER-010.
  15. ^ Cuvier, G. (1823). "Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles; ou, l'on retablit les caracteres de plusiers animaux dont les revolutions du globe ont detruit les especes". Les Ruminans et les Carnassiers Fossiles, Volume IV. Paris: G. Dufour & E. d'Ocagne.
  16. ^ a b Wilting A.; Christiansen P.; Kitchener A. C.; Kemp Y. J. M.; Ambu L.; Fickel, J. (2010). "Geographical variation in and evolutionary history of the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) with the description of a new subspecies from Borneo" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 58 (2): 317–328. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.11.007. PMID 21074625.
  17. ^ Gaveaua, D. L. A.; Wandonoc, H.; Setiabudid, F. (2007). "Three decades of deforestation in southwest Sumatra: Have protected areas halted forest loss and logging, and promoted re-growth?" (PDF). Biological Conservation. 134 (4): 495–504. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2006.08.035.
  18. ^ Rautner, M.; Hardiono, M.; Alfred, R. J. (2005), Borneo: treasure island at risk. Status of Forest, Wildlife, and related Threats on the Island of Borneo (PDF), WWF Germany
  19. ^ Povey, K.; Sunarto, H. J.G.; Priatna, D.; Ngoprasert, D.; Reed, D.; Wilting, A.; Lynam, A.; Haidai, I.; Long, B.; Johnson, A.; Cheyne, S.; Breitenmoser, C.; Holzer, K.; Byers, O. CBSG., eds. (2009), Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Conservation Summit Final Report (PDF), IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group: Apple Valley, MN.
  20. ^ Shahminan, F., Begawan, B. S. (2010). Poaching threatens clouded leopards Archived 2013-05-08 at the Wayback Machine The Brunei Times, 19 December 2010.
  21. ^ Hearn, A.; Ross, J. (2006). "Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project" (PDF). Cat Project of the Month – November 2006. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group.
  22. ^ Wilting, A.; Mohamed, A. (2009). "Consequences of different forest management strategies for felids in Sabah, Malaysia" (PDF). Cat Project of the Month – May 2009. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group.
  23. ^ Liddell, H. G.; Scott, R. (1889). "νεοs". An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  24. ^ Lewis, C. T. (1890). "fēlēs or faelēs". An Elementary Latin Dictionary. New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago: American Book Company.
  25. ^ Horsfield, T. (1825). "Description of the Rimau-Dahan of the inhabitants of Sumatra, a new species of Felis, discovered in the forests of Bencoolen, by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, late Lieutenant-Governor of Fort Marlborough". Zoological Journal of London 1: 542–554.

External links

Older newspaper articles still online:

Batu Islands

The Batu Islands are an archipelago of Indonesia located in the Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Sumatra, between Nias and Siberut. The three primary islands, of approximately equal size, are Pini, Tanahmasa, and Tanahbala. There are forty-eight smaller islands, of which the largest are Sipika, Simuk, Bodjo, Telo and Sigata; less than half are inhabited. The total land area of the seven administrative districts is 1,206.6 km2. The islands are governed as a part of South Nias regency within North Sumatra province. In Indonesian and Malay, batu means rock or stone.

The equator passes through the archipelago, north of Tanahmasa and south of Pini. Administratively, Pini (with offshore islets) forms the Pulau-pulau Batu Timur (East Batu Islands) District of South Nias Regency. The rest of the archipelago at the 2010 Census comprised the Pulau-pulau Batu (Batu Islands) and Hibala Districts of the same regency. However, both have been subsequently divided to form new Districts - Tana Masa District has been formed from part of Hibala District, and three new districts have been formed from parts of Pulau-pulau Batu District - namely Pulau-pulau Batu Barat (West Batu Islands), Pulau-pulau Batu Utara (North Batu Islands) and Simuk Districts. The original districts remain with reduced areas and population, and thus the islands now form seven separate districts.

Big cat

The term "big cat" is typically used to refer to any of the five living members of the genus Panthera, namely tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard.

Except the snow leopard, these species are able to roar.

A more liberal and expansive definition of the term includes species outside of Panthera including the cougar, clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard and cheetah, although these added species also do not roar.Despite enormous differences in size, various cat species are quite similar in both structure and behaviour, with the exception of the cheetah, which significantly stands out from the other big and small cats. All cats are carnivores and efficient apex predators. Their range includes the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Bornean clouded leopard

The Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi borneensis) is a subspecies of the Sunda clouded leopard. It is native to the island of Borneo, and differs from the Batu-Sumatran clouded leopard in the shape and frequency of spots, as well as in cranio-mandibular and dental characters. In 2017, the Cat Classification Taskforce of the Cat Specialist Group recognized the validity of this subspecies.

Bornean tiger

The Bornean tiger is possibly an extinct tiger population that is thought to have lived in the Sunda island of Borneo in prehistoric times.

While a live Bornean tiger has not been conclusively recorded, indigenous people believe in its existence.

Clouded leopard

The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a wild cat occurring from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China. Since 2008, it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Its total population is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend, and no single population numbering more than 1,000 adults. It is also known as the mainland clouded leopard, to distinguish it from the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi). It is the state animal of the Indian state of Meghalaya.

List of Indonesian endemic animals

This page contains the list of Indonesian animals.

List of felids

Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats. A member of this family is also called a felid or feline. The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to domestic cats. The characteristic features of cats have evolved to support a carnivorous lifestyle, with adaptations for ambush or stalking and short pursuit hunting. They have slender muscular bodies, strong flexible forelimbs and retractable claws for holding prey, dental and cranial adaptations for a strong bite, and often have characteristic striped or spotted coat patterns for camouflage.Felidae comprises two subfamilies, the Pantherinae and the Felinae. The former includes the five Panthera species tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard, as well as the two Neofelis species clouded leopard and Sunda clouded leopard. The Felinae subfamily includes 12 genera and 34 species, such as the bobcat, caracal, cheetah, cougar, ocelot, and common domestic cat.Traditionally, five subfamilies have been distinguished within the Felidae based on phenotypical features: the Felinae, the Pantherinae, the Acinonychinae (cheetahs), the extinct Machairodontinae, and the extinct Proailurinae. Molecular phylogenetic analysis suggests that living (extant) felids fall into eight lineages (clades). The placement of the cheetah within the Puma lineage invalidates the traditional subfamily Acinonychinae, and recent sources use only two subfamilies for extant genera. The number of accepted species in Felidae has been around 40 since the 18th century, though research, especially modern molecular phylogenetic analysis, has over time adjusted the generally accepted genera as well as the divisions between recognized subspecies, species, and population groups. In addition to the extant species listed here, over 30 fossil genera have been described; these are divided into the Felinae, Pantherinae, Proailurinae, and Machairodontinae subfamilies. This final subfamily includes the Smilodon genus, known as the "saber-toothed tiger", which went extinct around 10,000 years ago. The earliest known felid genus is the Proailurus, part of Proailurinae, which lived approximately 25 million years ago.

List of largest cats

This list of largest cats shows 10 Felidae species, ordered by maximum reported weight and size of wild individuals on record. The list does not contain cat hybrids.

List of mammals described in the 2000s

Although the mammals are well studied in comparison to other animal groups, a number of new species are still being discovered. This list includes extant mammal species discovered, formally named, or brought to public light in the year 2000 or later. Notable subspecies are also included, as are mammals rediscovered after being declared, or seriously suspected to be, extinct.

Newly discovered fossils are not included.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.


Neofelis is a genus comprising two extant cat species from Southeast Asia: the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) of mainland Asia, and the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) of Sumatra and Borneo.The scientific name Neofelis is a composite of the Greek word neo- (νεο-) meaning "new", and the Latin word feles meaning "cat", literally meaning "new cat".


Pantherinae is a subfamily within the family Felidae, which was named and first described by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1917.

Sembilang National Park

Sembilang National Park is a national park covering 2,051 km2 along the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The park is dominated by swamps as peat forests, like the neighbouring Berbak National Park, and both parks are Ramsar wetlands of international importance. The park is considered to have the most complex shorebird community in the world, with 213 species recorded, and supports the world's largest breeding colony of milky storks. From Palembang to the Sembilang National Park needs one hour drive plus one and a half hour by boat and then one hour overland.

Sumatran clouded leopard

The Sumatran clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi diardi) is a subspecies of the Sunda clouded leopard and is native to the Indonesian islands of Batu and Sumatra. It differs in molecular, craniomandibular and dental characteristics from the Bornean clouded leopard.

It was recognized as a valid subspecies in 2017.

Sunda Islands

The Sunda Islands are a group of islands in the Malay archipelago.They are further divided into the Greater Sunda Islands and the Lesser Sunda Islands.

Wehea Forest

Wehea Forest is a 38,000 ha rainforest located in East Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan, Borneo. Wehea was declared a 'protected forest' in 2004 by the Wehea Dayak. This project received the Kalpataru Award in 2009, Indonesia's highest environmental honor. It currently is a co-managed forest between the local Wehea Dayak people from the village of Nehas Liah Bing and Wehea Management Body. The Kepala Adat of Nehas Liah Bing is Ledjie Taq.

Extant Carnivora species

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