Panther believed to be extinct seen in Taiwan after 30 years

Credit: A Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa ) from the Cat Survival Trust. Credit : Wikipedia

A panther that has believed to be extinct for 30 years has recently been spotted by several witnesses in south-eastern Taiwan.  Verification reports are currently being carried out. 

The clouded leopard from Taiwan also known as Neofelis nebulosa brachyura is a subspecies of the clouded leopard that has been thought of as extinct for thirty years.  No specimen has been spotted since 1983.  However it seems that this animal is resilient.  According to the Taiwan News a group of villagers have spotted this elusive beast twice in 2018.  Forest guards have also said they saw a a big cat chasing goats on a cliff in the Daren canton few months ago.  One of them recounts having seen a leopard spinning in front of a scooter rushing into a tree and then disappearing.

In view of these sightings, the tribal authorities have forbidden hunters, foresters or other dismantling activities to enter areas where there have been sightings.  These sightings must be checked and if necessary protective measures should be put in place.

A real game of hide and seek

The animal’s history is surrounded in mystery.  Historic documents from the 13th century seem to document the commercialisation of the leopard’s skin by the indigenous people in the port city of Taina.  An on-the-ground survey carried out between 1990 and 1993 in the natural reserve of Dawushan found no trace of the animal. Nevertheless 400 cameras were set up and 16, 000 photos were taken.  A second survey was carried out between 2001 and 2013 didn’t have any luck either.  This is moment when this sub species was officially declared extinct.

An illustration of the clouded leopard from Taiwan (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura).  The sub species believed to be extinct was spotted in Taiwan several month ago.  Credits : Wikipedia

However it is not impossible for a persecuted animal to stay hidden and secretive for many years before finally reappearing.  It reminds us of the recent story of a giant tortoise believed to be extinct on the island of Galapagos which was seen for the first time since 1906.  There discovery of other prints make researchers believe other specimens are alive highlighting an opportunity for reproduction.

It also reminds us of the giant Wallace bee which is known as the biggest bee in the world which went off the radar for 38 years.  This lack of sightings made many people believe the bee to be extinct.  One of the bees was seen in Indonesia perched in a tree inside a termites nest.


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