At the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia, two clouded leopard cubs were born March 28. This wild Asian cat species is considered vulnerable, with fewer than 10,000 mature individuals left in multiple population clusters of 1,000 or less. Large-scaled deforestation has reduced their habitat to a precarious level. Commercial poaching is also contributing to their decline. Their bones and body parts are sometimes substituted for those from tigers from traditional Asian medicine. In a survey conducted in Myanmar, over 300 body parts from 279 clouded leopards were counted in four markets over a fifteen-year period.
In the past thirty years more than 70 clouded leopard cubs have been born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. The research and conservation organization is trying to raise money to construct a better enclosure for their cloud leopards.
Image Credits: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute