The clouded leopard is generally protected under game laws and fully protected in parks and reserves, but there is not enough knowledge about wild populations to draw firm conclusions about the success of these conservation measures. The Formosan clouded leopard of Taiwan, (N. nebulosa brachyurus) a subspecies of Neofelis is thought to be extinct, and is an indication of the possible fate of clouded leopards elsewhere (2). Captive breeding programmes were initially unsuccessful due to the small gene pool available in captive as well as wild individuals (2). In addition, there has been high incidence of males killing females in captivity (5). The Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) recognised these problems and in the late 1990s set up the Thailand Clouded Forest Foundation to research the behaviour of these cats and improve captive management and artificial reproduction (8). In 1998, 22 compatible pairs were given breeding recommendations and from January 1998 to August 2001, a total of 52 births occurred from 12 pairs (8). These results are positive, but there are still problems of reduced genetic diversity among the captive leopards and the small numbers of breeding individuals, which the Foundation is trying to address (8). The clouded leopard's survival depends on these conservation measures. It is hoped that one day we can attribute the rare sightings of this beautiful leopard to its elusive nature rather than diminishing numbers (5).
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