Bornean Clouded Leopard has lived on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra for hundreds of thousands of years and yet was only recently recognized as a separate species. Called ‘Neofelis Diardi’ the cat is now believed to be different from the mainland clouded leopard ‘Neofelis Nebulosa’. The difference was established after a detailed chromosomal analysis whereby enough contrast was found with the clouded leopard to stop considering it as its subspecies. In fact the extent of genetic variation was similar to what is found in DNA of other big cats.
To a keen eye the difference is easily appreciable in even the coats of the two cats. The Bornean Clouded Leopard has a coat that is darker, with a double dorsal spine, and smaller cloud markings with numerous distinct spots within them, than the mainland Clouded Leopard. It is the largest predator on the island of Borneo, the third largest island in the world, and its two inch canines are second only to the saber toothed tiger in feline history.
Little is known about the behavior and lifestyle of this secretive animal that resides deep within the rain forests of Borneo. The agile body, short legs, large paws, sharp claws and great climbing ability enable it to reside and stalk high on trees and take down a variety of prey using its great stealth and hunting apparatus. Deer, monkeys and pigs – the usual prey – are killed by a single bite from those great teeth, and despite its short stocky physique (weight nearly fifty to sixty pounds, length around three feet excluding tail) larger prey is frequently taken without hesitation.
As with every other big cat in nature, man-made threats continue to push it against the wall in its fight for existence in the wild. In the case of Bornean Clouded Leopard, these include mainly habitat destruction by logging and new rubber and palm oil plantations. Recently however, the three governments controlling Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia) met and drafted a landmark conservation agreement to protect the heartland of Borneo and designate it for conservation and sustenance of the diverse fauna and flora of one of the last remaining heavens on earth – raising hope for one of the most beautiful cats of them all!