Once Thought Extinct: Meet The Fascinating Formosan Clouded Leopard

Until February 2019, it was thought extinct.


Is an animal extinct if it is no longer observed by humans? As was the case with the Formosan clouded leopard, this is typical.

The predatory cat was declared extinct in 2013 after a years-long project to capture one on camera failed, but rangers reportedly spotted it twice 2019 in a remote part of Taiwan.


The clouded leopard is not related to the leopard and has its own genus (Neofelis) that is distinct from the big cats (Panthera). The clouded leopard was split into two species in 2006: Neofelis nebulosa, which lives on the Asian mainland, and Neofelis diardi, which lives only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Clouded leopards are the flagship species of the Eastern Himalayan Broadleaf Forests ecoregion, located in the Himalayan Mixed Forests & Grasslands (IM5) bioregion.

The cat that was recently thought to be extinct is actually a subspecies (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) found only in Taiwan.

The animal was last officially seen in 1983. Professor Liu Chiung-hsi of National Taitung University’s Department of Life Science told Yahoo News that he wasn’t surprised there hadn’t been a sighting because the animal is vigilant and purposefully elusive, avoiding human contact.