Wildlife Wednesdays: Extinct No More! Taiwanese Leopard | weatherology°
This website uses cookies to improve your user experience and for analytical purposes. By clicking the "Accept & Close" button, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device while using this site. Please see our privacy policy to learn more about how and why we use cookies.
By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 8th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Extinct No More! Taiwanese Leopard

According to scientists and conservationists, our planet is currently undergoing the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. Different types of plant and animal species are going extinct at up to 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate. The primary culprits for this are deforestation, mining, and carbon dioxide emissions. This is causing the planet to heat up. It had been assumed that the Taiwanese Leopard retreated to a different location or died out, because of extensive logging of their habitat. So, when this animal was spotted once again, it was great news to everyone!

The Taiwanese Leopard, aka Formosan clouded leopard, is a rare species of large cat that is found in Taiwan. It was last officially sighted in 1983, and in 2013, it was declared extinct. Historical records of this type of leopard date all the way back to the 13th century! Indigenous people brought its pelts to trade at busy markets or port cities. Since then, it was seen many times in the wilderness by several groups of people up until 1983. Sadly, hunters came in from the outside, which also lessened the population of this animal. Tribal members in Taiwan believed they could stop the hunting by urging authorities to make a law. A team of Taiwanese and U.S. zoologists surveyed the region during the period of 2001-2013 and had not seen any leopards, which by then they were declared officially extinct.

On two separate occasions last year, this leopard was spotted for the first time since 1983 by multiple people in the wilderness of southeast Taiwan. According to Chao Ren-fang, a professor at the Institute of Biology at I-Shou University, it would be a huge thing to remove the Formosa clouded leopard from the endangered species list, but are reluctant to do so. 

The leopard has become a symbol of Taiwan's conservation indicators and is a sacred spirit to the Paiwan tribe. The village chief said a meeting had been held to discuss the sightings and how to stop outsiders from attempting to hunt them. Rangers have also set up patrol after the sightings, according to Yahoo News.