Neofelis diardiSunda clouded leopard(Also: Enkuli clouded leopard; Sunda Islands clouded leopard; Sundaland clouded leopard)

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Geographic Range

Sundaland clouded leopards occur on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in the Malay Archipelago. It is currently unknown if Sundaland clouded leopards are on Batu, a smaller island close to Sumatra. Fossils of clouded leopards have been found on the island of Java. Sundaland clouded leopards are believed to have diverged from mainland clouded leopards approximately 1.5 million years ago due to geographic barriers. The presence of Sundaland clouded leopards on the Malay Peninsula has not been confirmed. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Hearn, 2008; Kitchener, 2006; Meiri, 2007; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008; "Clouded Leopard - Neofelis nebulosa (including Neofelis diardi)", 2010)

Habitat

Sundaland clouded leopards are primarily forest-dwellers, however, they have been observed in other habitats as well. They are most abundant in hilly areas on the island of Sumatra, and have been observed in the lowland rain forests of Borneo as well, below 1500 m. Evidence suggests that they occupy low-elevation habitats due to the absence of large predators such as tigers. They are often sighted on the periphery of logged forests and close to human civilizations, likely due to extensive habitat loss occurring throughout its geographic range. Sundaland clouded leopards are about six times more abundant on Borneo than on Sumatra. They are highly arboreal and are particularly fond of trees overhanging ridges or cliffs. In areas containing tigers, a known predator of Sundaland clouded leopards, they rarely descend to the ground and are thought to travel through the canopy. They appear to be more arboreal on the island of Sumatra than in other areas of their geographic range, possibly due to sympatry with tigers. Despite their highly arboreal nature, they occasionally travel alongside logging roads as well. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Gordon, et al., 2007; Hearn, 2008; Kitchener, 2006; "Clouded Leopard - Neofelis nebulosa (including Neofelis diardi)", 2010; "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009)

  • Range elevation
    < 1500 (low) m
    (low) ft

Physical Description

Sundaland clouded leopards are medium-sized and have large spots along its entire body which resemble clouds. Their spots are darker and larger than the mainland clouded leopard, and the coat is darker than that of their mainland counterpart. The spots on their coat are outlined in black and the inside is darker than their primary coat color. They have two distinct black bars on the back of their necks, as well as large black ovals on the venter. The exceptionally long tail, which helps with balance while traveling in the canopy, is covered in thick fur and has a number of dark black rings along its length. They have short legs and broad paws, which make it exceptional at climbing trees, as well as moving silently through dense forests. The hind feet have very flexible joints, which allow them to descend from the canopy head first. Their flexible joints also enables them to hang from a branch using only their hind feet while using their forefeet to capture prey. Sundaland clouded leopards have exceptionally large canine teeth, which can be up to 5 cm long. In porportion to their body size, they have the largest canines of any felid. The morphology of their jaws and teeth are similar to those of extinct saber-toothed cats. Head and body length ranges from 60 to 110cm, tail length ranges from 55 to 91cm long and weight ranges from 15 to 30 kg. Males are generally larger than females. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; "Spotted! The elusive Sunda clouded leopard of Sumatra is caught on film for the first time", 2011; Buckley-Beason, 2006; Christiansen, 2008; Hearn, 2008; Kitchener, 2006; Mohamed and Wilting, 2009; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008; Wilting and Buckley-Beason, 2007; Wilting, 2009; "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    15 to 30 kg
    33.04 to 66.08 lb
  • Range length
    115 to 201 cm
    45.28 to 79.13 in

Development

There is no information available regarding the development of Neofelis diardi.

Reproduction

Neofelis diardi is thought to be seasonally monogamous. There is no further information available regarding the mating system of this species.

There is little information available regarding breeding behavior in Sundaland clouded leopards, and all available information was gathered by observing captive individuals. Captive breeding has been mostly unsuccessful due to aggression between mates, which occasionally results in the death of the female. If introduced at a young age, aggression is not as pronounced and has allowed for more successful breeding. They are believed to exhibit similar breeding behaviors as mainland clouded leopards. Most Sundaland clouded leopards become sexually mature around 2 years of age. Mating can occur during any month of the year, but peaks between December and March. Gestation ranges from 85 to 95 days and results in 1 to 5 cubs, with an average of 2 cubs per litter. Cubs are usually independent once they reach 10 months old and become reproductively mature by 2 years of age. The females are able to produce a litter every year. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008; "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009)

  • Breeding interval
    Sundaland clouded leopards breed once yearly
  • Breeding season
    Breeding activity in Sundaland clouded leopards occurs year-round but peaks from December through March.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 5
  • Average number of offspring
    2
  • Range gestation period
    85 to 95 days
  • Average time to independence
    10 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

There is little information available regarding parental care in Sundaland clouded leopards. Mothers nurse cubs until about 10 months of age, at which time they become independent.

Lifespan/Longevity

There is no information available regarding the average lifespan of Neofelis diardi.

Behavior

There is little information available regarding the general behavior of Sundaland clouded leopards. It is believed that they are solitary animals, like many other large cats, except when breeding or accompanied by cubs. They were once believed to be completely nocturnal; however recent evidence suggests that they are also active during the day. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Gordon, et al., 2007; Mohamed and Wilting, 2009; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008)

Home Range

There is little information available regarding the average home range size of Sundaland clouded leopards. Recently, a single males was photographed numerous times throughout a 45 km² range; however, the average home range size of this species is thought to be larger. Based on this limited evidence, the home range of Sundaland clouded leopards is thought to far exceed that of mainland clouded leopards. An additional study recaptured the same individual numerous times throughout a 112 km² range, suggesting low population densities in this region of the animal's geographic range. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Gordon, et al., 2007; Mohamed and Wilting, 2009; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008)

Communication and Perception

There is little information available regarding communication and perception in Sundaland clouded leopards. With the exception of breeding season and when females are with cubs, they are highly solitary. They are territorial and appear to use logging roads as boundaries, which are openly and frequently crossed. They are thought to demarcate territorial bounderies with urine. There is no information available regarding intraspecific communication with mates and young. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008)

Food Habits

Sundaland clouded leopards are carnivorous and feed on a wide variety terrestrial and arboreal prey. They regularly feed on sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer, bearded pig, Palm civet, gray leaf monkey, fish, birds and porcupines. They have been observed preying upon proboscis monkeys as well; specifically, they target infant proboscis monkeys or juvenile females. They are ambush predators and attack prey from the canopy. They have been known to remove the limbs of their prey and bring them into trees for protection against leeches and to relax while feeding. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Hearn, 2008; Matsuda, 2008; Mohamed and Wilting, 2009; "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009)

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • fish

Predation

The Sundaland clouded leopard is a large predator and has very few predators of its own. They are illegally hunted by humans for their coats as well certain body parts that are used in traditional medicine. On Sumatra, tigers are thought to be important predators, however, this has not been confirmed. During the day, Sundaland clouded leopards remain in the canopy more than during the night, presumably to avoid tigers. They are very well camouflaged, which likely helps reduce risk of predation. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Gaveau, et al., 2007; Hearn, 2006; Hearn, 2008; Rautner, 2005; Wilting, 2009)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

There is no information available regarding the potential impact that Neofelis diardi has on its local environment.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Sundaland clouded leopards are illegally hunted for their coats and various body parts are used in traditional medicine. Tissue samples from carcasses have been used in phylogenetic research, which has helped establish the relationship of this species to other felids. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Hearn, 2008)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Sundaland clouded leopards occasionally prey on livestock from villages surrounded by vast forest in Sumatra and Borneo. There are no records of Sundaland clouded leopards attacking humans. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Hearn, 2008)

Conservation Status

Sundaland clouded leopards are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. Major threats include rapid and extensive deforestation for agricultural expansion (e.g., oil palm) and settlements. Rapid deforestation to establish oil-palm plantations is a major road block to the longterm persistence of this species. Deforestation laws are rarely enforced and even wildlife sanctuaries and national forests have been somewhat deforested since 1970. Deforestation not only decreases the amount of available habitat for this species, but reduces available habitat for potential prey as well. Additional threats include illegal hunting and accidental trapping. Two subspecies have been recognized, Neofelis diardi borneensis and Neofelis diardi diardi, both of which are classified as endangered on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. Sundaland clouded leopards occur in a number of protected areas throughout its geographic range and is listed under Appendix 1 by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; Hearn, 2008; Rautner, 2005; "Clouded Leopard - Neofelis nebulosa (including Neofelis diardi)", 2010; "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009)

Other Comments

Sundaland clouded leopards is commonly referred to as the Bornean clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard, Sunda Islands clouded leopard, and Enkuli clouded leopard. They were recently declared a new species because of significant differences from mainland clouded leopards. It was determined that they had 41 fixed mitochondrial nucleotide differences and non-overlapping allele sizes in 8 of 18 microsatellite loci shared between the two species. This is equivalent to the number of differences between lions and tigers. Scientists have also declared two sub-species of Sundaland clouded leopards. Neofelis diardi borneensis is found exclusively on Bornea, whereas Neofelis diardi diardi is found exclusively on Sumatra. ("Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009; "Spotted! The elusive Sunda clouded leopard of Sumatra is caught on film for the first time", 2011; Buckley-Beason, 2006; Christiansen, 2008; Hearn, 2008; Kitchener, 2006; Mohamed and Wilting, 2009; "About the Clouded Leopard", 2008; Wilting and Buckley-Beason, 2007; Wilting, 2009; "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)", 2009)

Contributors

Corey Hancock (author), Northern Michigan University, Mary Martin (editor), Northern Michigan University, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
drug

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

The Clouded Leopard Project. 2008. "About the Clouded Leopard" (On-line). The Clouded Leopard Project. Accessed March 10, 2011 at http://www.cloudedleopard.org/default.aspx?link=about_main.

Wotcat.com. 2009. "Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)" (On-line). Wotcat. Accessed March 10, 2011 at http://www.wotcat.com/Mammal/Bornean-Clouded-Leopard/Neofelis/diardi.html.

WAZA. 2010. "Clouded Leopard - Neofelis nebulosa (including Neofelis diardi)" (On-line). World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Accessed March 10, 2011 at http://www.waza.org/en/zoo/visit-the-zoo/cats-1254385523/neofelis-nebulosa-including-neofelis-diardi.

2009. "Diard's Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)" (On-line). ARKive Images of Life on Earth. Accessed March 10, 2011 at http://www.arkive.org/diards-clouded-leopard/neofelis-diardi/#text=Biology.

2011. "Spotted! The elusive Sunda clouded leopard of Sumatra is caught on film for the first time" (On-line). Mail Online. Accessed March 10, 2011 at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1363099/Newest-big-cat-species-Sunda-clouded-leopard-Sumatra-filmed-time.html.

Buckley-Beason, V. 2006. Molecular Evidence for Species-Level Distinctions in Clouded Leopards. Current Biology, 16: 2371–2376. Accessed March 10, 2011 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=MImg&_imagekey=B6VRT-4MGW3JF-12-5&_cdi=6243&_user=10&_pii=S0960982206021336&_origin=gateway&_coverDate=12%2F05%2F2006&_sk=%23TOC%236243%232006%23999839976%23638736%23FLA%23display%23Volume_16,_Issue_23,_Pages_2279-2384,_R971-R1004_%285_December_2006%29%23tagged%23Volume%23first%3D16%23Issue%23first%3D23%23date%23%285_December_2006%29%23&view=c&_gw=y&wchp=dGLbVlb-zSkzk&md5=6aa0d236451d348654dc68f23298df4f&ie=/sdarticle.pdf.

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Hearn, A. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Cambridge, United Kingdom: International Union for Conservation of Nature. Accessed February 04, 2011 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/136603.

Hearn, A. 2006. "IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group" (On-line). Accessed February 04, 2011 at http://www.catsg.org/catsgportal/project-o-month/02_webarchive/grafics/dec2006.pdf.

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Matsuda, I. 2008. Primates. Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) Predation on Proboscis Monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) in Sabah, Malaysia, 49: 227-231. Accessed February 04, 2011 at http://www.springerlink.com/content/l6q3xng42g14v668/.

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Rautner, M. 2005. Borneo: Treasure Island at risk. Status of Forest, Wildlife, and Related Threats on the Island of Borneo. Germany: WFF Germany. Accessed February 04, 2011 at http://assets.panda.org/downloads/treasureislandatrisk.pdf.

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