Elusive Clouded Leopard Caught on Camera at High Altitude Himalayan Forest

A clouded leopard was captured on video at one of the highest documented heights.

A team of researchers caught remote camera images of a group of clouded leopards in northeastern India’s Nagaland Mountains. Researchers, led by the Delhi-based non-profit Wildlife Protection Society of India, discovered leopards at an extraordinary altitude of 3,700 meters (WPSI).

If you were to discover a clouded leopard (Neofelis) in the mountainous woods of Southeast Asia, you should consider yourself quite fortunate, as these cats are among the most elusive and least understood of the feline species.

It is now believed that clouded leopards comprise two different species: a mainland species found in fragmented habitat in the eastern Himalayas, southern China, Myanmar, and Malaysia, and the Sundaland clouded leopard on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

These majestic and mysterious creatures are some of the greatest climbers among cats, spending the most of their time silently slinking around the jungle branches at midnight in search of prey. Clouded leopards mainly hunt and consume tree-dwelling creatures, such as monkeys and pangolins, although they will also kill and consume small deer.

In addition, clouded leopards have the proportionally longest canine teeth of all extant felids, resembling miniature saber-tooth cats. However, unlike real sabertooths, both the upper and lower canines of the clouded leopard are notably dagger-like. In their dangerous, arboreal home, these long fangs are unquestionably advantageous for capturing struggling prey.

As their name suggests, clouded leopards are members of the “big cat” Pantherinae subfamily of cats and are close cousins of leopards, lions, and tigers, in contrast to nearly all other species of medium-sized wild cat. In contrast, clouded leopards are considerably smaller than their screaming relatives and represent an early evolutionary divergence of the subfamily, sharing many features with tiny cats (like the ability to purr).

The clouded leopard has traditionally been regarded as a rare species, but its numbers continue to decline as a result of habitat degradation and poaching for its distinctive, beautiful coat.

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