Impurest's Guide to Animals #124 - Clouded Leopard

It was MCM Comicon this weekend whoo, two days of being my adorkable self. Unfortunatly last week’s animal, the Eastern Velvet Ant was against such a philosophy since it is actually a wasp. This week’s feline issue was requested by @laflux, hope you guys enjoy.

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Issue #124 – Clouded Leopard

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Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Mammalia

Order – Carnivora

Family – Felidae

Genus – Neofelis

Species – nebulosa

Related Species – The Clouded Leopard is one of two species within the genus Neofelis, the other being the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)

Range

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Sabretooth!?

The Clouded Leopard is a medium sized cat, reaching just over 2m in length and 20kg in weight, with dark grey fur covered with a black pattern of blotches that run from the head to the tip of the tail. Predominantly arboreal, the Clouded Leopard is the best climber of the cat family, able to head down trees head first, climb along a horizontal branch with their back facing the ground, and even hang onto anchor points with just their back feet. Clouded Leopards, like their distant big cat relatives, have an ossified hyoid bone that enables them to roar, but like the Snow Leopard (Panthera unica) it lacks the adaptations to the larynx to make the sound, instead relaying on hissing and moaning to communicate with others of its kind, as well as chemical cues left behind in urine and faeces.

Clouded Leopards hunt both on the ground and in the trees, feeding on a variety of prey ranging in size from small rodents up to medium sized deer. In addition to these standard types of prey, the Clouded Leopard also preys on tougher prey such as Malay Pangolin (Manis javanica) and Brush-Tailed Porcupine (Atherurus macrourus) despite both species impressive defence (2). Hunting such prey is made easier by the enlarged upper canine teeth, which can reach a length of over 4cm, the same length as those of a Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), albeit in a much smaller animal. This impressive dentition has earned the Clouded Leopard the nickname of ‘the Modern Sabretooth’ although the species (and all modern cat species) are not closely related to such animals.

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Clouded Leopards breed during the period between December and March, with courtship involving neck biting by the male, something that occasionally severs his romantic partner’s vertebrae. After mating, gestation takes three months, with the female giving birth to a litter of one to five kittens, with the female hiding the brood while she hunts. Said kittens are weaned at the age of three months (3), and eventually become independent seven months later, reaching sexual maturity at the age of two.

Five to Save: #11 Carnivores

Sitting at the top of the food chain as early rivals to human supremacy of Earth, the order Carnivoria has always had a somewhat doomed relationship with mankind. Many simply were not part of the human vision of Earth, and despite representing strength, nobility and power (as represented by the number of heraldic crests featuring lions, leopards, wolves and bears) were persecuted to the point of extinction. Now while such persecution has lessened, these predators face a new threat, namely a world no longer suited for their continued existence despite the new found respect many have been awarded.

Borneo Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia) Status: Endangered

Threat: Habitat Destruction – Native to Malaysia, the Borneo Bay Cat prefers highly forested areas to make its home in (4). While likely never really common, with only twenty five sightings since its discovery in 1847, the cat’s home is rapidly being destroyed, in some places at a rate of 5% a year, which likely reduce the numbers of an already rare species with almost no captive population.

Darwin’s Fox (Pseudalopex fulvipes) Status: Critically Endangered

Threats: Disease – Like the Borneo Bay Cat, the Darwin’s Fox was never probably very common, being known from two islands off the coast of Chile. In response to this the Chilean government made these islands national parks in 1929, which while safeguarding the areas from large scale logging and mining, attracted to tourists, especially dog walkers. Having no defences against, even minor domestic canine diseases, the Darwin’s Fox population suffered, almost to the point of extinction.

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Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) Status: Critically Endangered

Threats: Prey Reduction – One of the most endangered animals in Europe, the Iberian Lynx suffers from depleted populations of its primary prey the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) which, while invasive in most of its range is scarce in its natural habitat. The Spanish government, has to its credit tried to reintroduce rabbit populations but progress is slow, and in most parts of the country is having little success.

Pygmy Raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus) Status: Critically Endangered

Threats: Invasive Predators – Restricted to a single island off the coast of Mexico, the Pygmy Raccoon has little defence against a multitude of introduced predators. Alongside the usual cats and dogs, introduced boa-constrictors (Boa constrictor) are a major threat to the raccoon population. In addition recent hurricane damage, urbanisation and limited genetic diversity on such a small population are really taking a toll on the species and reducing changes of its long term survival.

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Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) Status: Vulnerable

Threats: Over Hunting – South America’s only extant bear species, the Spectacled Bear lives in a number of habitats along the Andes mountain range. While conflict between livestock and crop poaching bears and famers exists, the main threat to the species is the harvesting of bear organs for sale, either locally or on the international black market, under the deluded idea that they have physique and mental enhancing qualities.

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - Feng, L., Lin, L., Zhang, L., Wang, L., Wang, B., Luo A., Yang, S., Smith, J. L. D., Luo S. J. and Zhang, L. (2008). "Evidence of wild tigers in southwest China – a preliminary survey of the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve". Cat News 48: 4–6.

3 - Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 278–284

4 - Sunquist, M. E., Leh, C., Hills, D. M., Rajaratnam, R. (1994). "Rediscovery of the Bornean Bay Cat". Oryx 28: 67–70.

Picture References

1 - http://www.animalspot.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Clouded-Leopard-Pictures.jpg

2 - http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/weblog/images/clouded_leopard_prevalence.jpg

3 - https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5096/5492366107_d70b1187f6_b.jpg

4 - http://cdn2.arkive.org/media/F2/F2E62A12-F234-4212-A139-32920D748F29/Presentation.Large/Wild-Darwins-fox.jpg

5 - http://cdn2.arkive.org/media/D6/D6DFBCBF-9AA4-4EEF-BC3E-01A0B5B4EFED/Presentation.Large/Pygmy-raccoon-portrait.jpg

Wow check out these carnivores and their deadly canines, pretty cool suggestion from @laflux long time reader for sure. Next week we’re going rafting and fishing in the fens of upland Britain. Until then make sure to critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

Want more IGTA? As you can see we love cats on this blog, and have covered two already. To check out the big beautiful Snow Leopard click here, or to check out the blog’s mascot the uncanny Caracal, click here.

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