After 13 years of searching, setting up over 1,500 camera traps, baited traps the Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) has been declared extinct. This has been suspected for some time, though scientists still held out hope, even though there has not been a confirmed sighting in over 30 years.
During Japanese occupation of Taiwan from 1895 to 1945 the trade in the pelts of the clouded leopard subspecies became rampant. Native tribes would hunt and trade the furs, often catching the cats using snares.
There is the possibility that a few individuals still exist in the Taiwanese forests, but there is no hope for the species. If they are not completely extinct now, they will be in a matter of years. The Taiwanese government is shocked and saddened to learn that this iconic cat species is extinct, and now may begin taking more steps towards conserving their disappearing wildlife.
Chiang Po-jen, a zoologist and research fellow part of the team searching for the elusive cat, told the Taiwan Review that “a forest with clouded leopards and a forest without clouded leopards mean something different. a forest without clouded leopards is… dead.”
The main species of clouded leopards still lives in the Himalayas (N. nebulosa) and there is a sub-species that lives on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra (N. diardi). Both species are considered vulnerable to extinction.