Extinct’ Taiwanese Leopard Spotted By Villagers for 1st Time Since Disappearing in 1983

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
March 2, 2019 Updated: March 2, 2019

Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura), thought to be extinct for 36 years, has been reportedly sighted roaming around in the wilderness of Taitung County, Taiwan, by two different groups of tribal rangers in January 2019.

In 2013, zoologists officially declared Formosan clouded leopard—a leopard species native to the island of Taiwan—extinct, after their 13-year fruitless attempts to locate the tree-dwelling cat using 1,500 infrared cameras and hundreds of scent traps, according to NBC News.

©Wikipedia | SSR2000

“There is little chance that the clouded leopard still exists in Taiwan,” zoologist Chiang Po-jen told the Taipei Times.

While two different Alangyi Village rangers were patrolling the traditional areas in January 2019 on two separate occasions, they unexpectedly caught sight of the supposedly extinct leopard prowling in the forest near Taitung County’s Daren Township, Kao Cheng-chi claimed, according to CNA. He is the president of the Association of the Austronesian Community College Development Association and village chief of the Paiwan Tribe.

©Wikipedia | Joseph Wolf

Alangyi Village Conference Chairman Pan Chih-hua confirmed the sightings in a phone interview with CNA, but he was not allowed to disclose the exact location and time of the sightings.

One Formosan clouded leopard, referred as “Li’ uljaw” by the indigenous Paiwan people, was spotted climbing a tree then running up a cliff to hunt goats. While another ranger recalled seeing a leopard darting past a scooter before moving hurriedly up a tree and disappeared out of sight, as per Taiwan News.

©Wikipedia |  Torii Ryūzō

The Taitung District Office of the Forestry Bureau and members of the Alangyi Village treated the recent sightings of Formosan clouded leopard—a sacred animal to the Paiwan people—with utmost importance.

A tribal meeting was held in the Alangyi Village to further investigate the matter and to stop outsiders from hunting in the region. Elders from the village also urged the Forestry Bureau to stop its logging activities.

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Even though Formosan clouded leopard was officially last seen in 1983, Liu Chiung-hsi, ecologist and Life Sciences professor of National Taitung University of Department, did not find the sightings of the animal surprising.

Professor Liu revealed that while talking to the indigenous Bunter hunters in 1998, some admitted they had hunted down the Asian cats, but worrying that they might be prosecuted under Taiwan’s Wildlife Conservation Act, they burned the leopards’ bodies.

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Posted by 上報 on Saturday, 23 February 2019

Further investigation is needed to verify the existence of Formosan clouded leopards; nonetheless, members of the Bunun tribe believe the Asian cats still roam furtively in Taiwan’s forests.

“The leopards are still watching us with their sharp eyes,” Bunun hunter Jiyanu told CNA.

Do you believe that the Formosan clouded leopards have clawed their way back from the edge of extinction? Well, if they really did, we may be able to see the leopards scrambling through the dense forests of Taiwan again.

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Posted by 原住民族電視台 Taiwan Indigenous TV on Thursday, 21 February 2019