Extinct Taiwanese Leopard Spotted For The First Time In Over 30 Years Since 1983

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In Taitung County, Daren Township mountain, Taiwan. Locals have claimed to have spotted the Formosan clouded leopard, also known as Neofelis Nebulosa Brachyura, or better still, known locally as Li’uljaw. The leopard was last thought to have been officially sighted in 1983 and only added to the list of extinct species in 2013.

Chief of the Paiwan Tribe, Kao Cheng-chi, has confirmed that a group of rangers in the County has been patrolling since last summer and that they recently spotted the Formosan clouded leopards goat hunting on a cliff and scrambling up trees. After the reported sightings, The Chief held a tribal meeting to investigate the sightings of the leopard and how to ensure that the hunters are prohibited in the area. The Forestry Bureau was also asked to stop doing any disruptive activities in the area.

The Formosan leopard is considered sacred by the Paiwan tribe and is still protected and listed by Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau.

Since the sightings, the Taitung Forest District Office is still waiting to confirm the sightings so they can start scientific research.

Professor Chiung-hsi told reporters, he believes that these animals still exist. He also stated that it’s not surprising that they haven’t been seen regularly due to their vigilance and elusive natural behavior.

The Formosan clouded leopard known for its dusky-grey markings was endemic to Taiwan and, once were considered the second largest carnivore on the island.

Professor Liu Chiung-hsi, at the National Taitung University of Department of Life Sciences, said that he had spoken with hunters of the Bunun people, an aboriginal group native to Taiwan. They admitted that they captured and killed an undisclosed number of Formosan clouded leopards in the late 1990s. They burned the remains for fear of the repercussions the country’s Wildlife Conservation Act. Apparently, the felines are challenging to hunt as they are very wary.

Let’s hope that the Formosan clouded leopard is no longer extinct.

Below are photographs of a Clouded Leopard, captured outside of Taiwan by Charles Barilleaux:

Flickr / Charles Barilleaux
Flickr / Charles Barilleaux
Flickr / Charles Barilleaux

Featured image: via Flickr / Charles Barilleaux under (CC BY 4.0)

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