The Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a rare cat species. It is a medium-sized felid, found from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China. It is 55 to 110 cm (2 ft to 3 ft 6 in) long and weighs between 15 and 23 kg (33 to 50 lb). It is classified as vulnerable in 2008 by IUCN. Its total population may be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals.
The genetic analysis of specimens of Neofelis nebulosa and its close relative Neofelis diardi suggests the two species diverged 1.4 million years ago. A group crossed a now submerged land bridge to Borneo and Sumatra from mainland Asia. And, the Sunda clouded leopard is different enough on the two large islands to be classed as two subspecies.
The split between the two subspecies corresponds roughly with the catastrophic eruption of the Toba supervolcano 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 these were later separated from their source population by rising sea levels.
References[change | change source]
- Wozencraft W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In Wilson D.E. & Reeder D.M. Mammal species of the world. 3rd ed, Johns Hopkins University Press, 545. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0 
- Cat Specialist Group (2002). Neofelis nebulosa. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is vulnerable
- Canopy carnivore. BBC Nature
- Buckley-Beason, V.A. et al 2006. Molecular evidence for species-level distinctions in Clouded Leopards. Current Biology 16 (23): 2371–2376. 
- Wilting A. et al 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. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 58. 317–328