Clouded Leopard

Credit: An 1862 painting of a Formosan clouded leopard by Joseph Wolf, image in the public domain
Source: from Could Extinct Clouded Leopards Be Reintroduced in Taiwan? by John R. Platt on Extinction Countdown

As 2014 draws to a close, a large portion of us will participate in the time-honored tradition of reflecting on the past year and resolving to start anew in the next. But come January, many of us will find that change is hard as we are drawn back into the well-worn ruts of our old habits. So, does that mean there is no hope for fresh starts? Not so fast…

John R. Platt reports that the clouded leopard, which was hunted to extinction in Taiwan in the 1980s, might get a new start on the island. According to a recent report, Taiwanese efforts to curb deforestation and habitat destruction have been wildly successful and experts estimate that the existing ecosystem could now support a population of 500-600 leopards. But wait, didn’t we establish that they are extinct? Luckily, the island leopards were not a distinct subspecies and extant populations on mainland Asia could be used to re-seed Taiwan’s forests. So in taking stock of 2014, let’s add a conservation win for Taiwan’s forests and look ahead, perhaps, to successful reintroduction of the clouded leopard to the island in 2015 and beyond. To new beginnings!