New Clouded Leopard found in Borneo
New 'Clouded' Leopard Species Discovered in Borneo
The clouded leopard of Borneo discovered to be an entirely new species is the latest in a growing list of animals and plants unique to the Southeast Asian country's rainforest and underscores the need to preserve the area, conservationists said Thursday.
Genetic tests by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute revealed that the clouded leopard of Borneo and Sumatra islands is a unique cat species and not the same one found in mainland Southeast Asia as long believed, said a statement by WWF, the global conservation organization.
"Who said a leopard can never change its spots? For over a hundred years we have been looking at this animal and never realized it was unique," said Stuart Chapman, WWF International Coordinator of the Heart of Borneo program, which is dedicated to preserving the flora and fauna in the deep jungles on Borneo.
The secretive clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo, growing sometimes to the size of a small panther. They have the longest canine teeth relative to body size of any cat.
"The fact that Borneo's top predator is now considered a separate species further emphasizes the importance of conserving the Heart of Borneo," Chapman said.
The news about the clouded leopard comes just a few weeks after a WWF report showed that scientists had identified at least 52 new species of animals and plants over the past year on Borneo, the world's third largest island that is shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
The Heart of Borneo, a mountainous region about five times the size of Switzerland covered with equatorial rainforest in the center of the island, is the last great forest home of the Bornean clouded leopard.