Because the clouded leopard is one of the most elusive and secretive creatures on the planet, seeing one in the wild is practically impossible. These wild cats are particularly tough to find due to their unique method of keeping a low profile and the ecosystem in which they dwell.
Nonetheless, a group of researchers recently captured this incredibly elusive wild cat on video in areas they never imagined possible—at a very high altitude in the Himalayan wilderness. This is the greatest height at which a clouded leopard has ever been observed.
The unexpected meeting occurred in the Nagaland Mountains of northeastern India, where researchers from the Wildlife Protection Society of India—a non-profit based in Delhi—managed to photograph three clouded leopards at an altitude of over 3700 meters.
Although the clouded leopard is very secretive, there have been countless sightings, virtually all of which have occurred in low-altitude evergreen rainforests. However, wildlife experts never imagined that these wild cats could thrive at greater altitudes. Nonetheless, they were able to collect frames with at least two parents and two cubs at an altitude of nearly 3700 m.
“In all, we have proof of at least two adults and two cubs,” the report of the study team said. “Two separate individuals were photographed at a camera set above the forest line at 3,700 m near Mt. Saramati’s peak.” Another person was photographed at 3,436 meters.
Seeing these wild cats at such high elevations confirms that clouded leopards are the most skilled and powerful climbers of all the cats.
They may weigh between 25 and 50 pounds, and their incredibly long (some claim the longest compared to the body) teeth make them excellent hunters.