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Clouded Leopard on the Menu

According to the Smithsonian, today’s Endangered All-Star, the Clouded Leopard, has been seen on restaurant menus catering to the wealthy in China and Thailand. Skins are for sale in markets throughout southeast Asia, and teeth and bones are used in traditional Chinese medicine, a replacement for tiger parts as that species grows ever more scarce. But with its population of 10,000 already in decline, this cat can hardly afford to feed Asia’s so-called “Big Bucks” businessmen. In addition to poaching, rapid deforestation—exceeding ten percent over the past decade—endangers this forest-dependent species. Thought to provide a unique link between small and large felines, the clouded leopard has the largest canine teeth proportionately of any cat, prompting comparison to extinct sabre-toothed cats. Recently, motion-sensitive cameras captured evidence of seven species of cat, including Clouded Leopard, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Ravi Chellam, representing the Wildlife Conservation Society, told the BBC: “The entire forest here should be protected as a single conservation landscape, free of disturbance and connected by wildlife corridors.” But with a Maoist insurgency active in a number of India’s tiger reserves, adding to poaching pressure, this seems unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, the Clouded Leopard Project, organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan, supports research and better management throughout the species’ range: Learn how to adopt a Clouded Leopard here.
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