Leopard Species Thought To Have Disappeared In The 80s Has Been Spotted Alive

There has been a lot of talk about the potential for climate change to wipe out animal and plant species across the planet and that's certainly concerning.

But in some good news, it seems as though an animal that was thought to be extinct has been found alive.

The Formosan clouded leopard hasn't been seen in the wild since the 1980s and was officially declared extinct in 2013. Strangely though, a group of villagers in Taiwan have spotted the beast on two separate occasions.

Specimen of the animal in the National Taiwan Museum. Credit: SSR2000/Creative Commons
Specimen of the animal in the National Taiwan Museum. Credit: SSR2000/Creative Commons

According to Taiwan News, 'several witnesses' claim to have seen the leopard in the country's southeast.

One person recalled seeing the animal climb a tree and scramble up a cliff to chase after goats, while another group described seeing one dart near their scooters and go up a tree.

Sure, you might think it'd be tough to accurately identify an animal when it's running all over the place, but these people seem pretty certain it's the long lost Formosan leopard.

The animal was declared extinct in 2013 after a 13-year long study aimed at finding it turned up nothing.

 Taiwanese Aboriginal man wearing a clouded leopard fur. Credit: Anthropologist Torii Ryūzō/Creative Commons
Taiwanese Aboriginal man wearing a clouded leopard fur. Credit: Anthropologist Torii Ryūzō/Creative Commons

Not a single sighting was made for that lengthy time and researchers simply declared that it couldn't be around for that long without being spotted at least once.

As part of the study, there were a bunch of cameras set up in the wild and researchers had to go through 13,000 pieces of data, all of which captured nothing but the surrounding landscape.

Another study was done between 1990 to 1993 where a further 16,000 photos were snapped in a bid to capture the animal in the wild. That, again, turned up nothing.

It's similar to the story of a photographer managing to snap pictures of the elusive black leopard.

Will Burrard-Lucas' photographs show a black leopard prowling through Laikipia Wilderness Camp in the plains of Kenya, below a full moon. The cat is so rare it has taken on an almost mythical status, which is reflected by the fact the creature hadn't been photographed in Africa in almost 100 years.

The leopard - which is also referred to as a black panther - derives its dark coat from melanism, the opposite of albinism. While albinism causes whiteness due to a lack of pigmentation, the genetic variation melanism results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

This doesn't mean the big cat is totally black though, with Mr Burrard-Lucas' pictures revealing typical markings hidden within the leopard's glossy, sooty coat.

Featured Image Credit: Joseph Wolf/Creative Commons

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.

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