neofelis nebulosa brachyura

Subspecies Spotlight #05: The Formosan Clouded Leopard

Photo source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan)

Written by admin Lynx and mod Leo

The Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) was a subspecies of clouded leopard that inhabited the island of Taiwan. As a result of extensive logging, Formosan clouded leopards retreated into the Jade Mountain and Tawu Mountain. There they lived in tropical, subtropical, and broadleaf forest habitats.

Twenty four years passed between the last confirmed sighting of this cat, and the actual date it was classified as extinct. They slipped away due to the fur trade, poaching, habitat degradation, and prey loss. Very little was known about them, due to the lack of research before their extinction. Robert Swinhoe had noted that this subspecies had a particularly short tail in comparison to other clouded leopards.

The Formosan clouded leopard is a harsh reminder that time is running out for wild cats across the globe, and that lesser-known species can fade away without anyone taking notice.