Rare clouded leopard caught on camera at high altitude Himalayan forest

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The clouded leopard is one of the most secretive and elusive animals in the world, so spotting these majestic feline in the wild is nearly impossible. Their very own way to keep a low profile and the habitat they live in, make these wild cats extremely difficult to encounter.

Nevertheless, a group of of researchers have recently caught on camera this highly elusive wild cat in places they have never thought it would be possible – at a very high altitude in the Himalayan forest. This is the highest altitude ever reported where a clouded leopard was spotted.

WPSI/Thanamir Village

The highly unpredicted encounter happened in the Nagaland Mountains, northeastern India, where the researchers from the Wildlife Protection Society of India – a non profit from Delhi, managed to capture on camera several clouded leopards, at over 3700 m altitude.

Although highly elusive, there were numerous sightings of clouded leopard, but almost all of them in the evergreen rainforests which are at a low altitude. But wildlife officials never thought these wild cats can actually survive at higher altitude. Yet, with the occasion they were able to obtain frames with at least two adults and two cubs at over 3700 m altitude.

“In total, we have evidence of at least two adults and two cubs,” the research team’s report reads. “Two distinct individuals were photo-captured at a camera placed above the tree line at 3,700 m close to the summit of Mt. Saramati. Another individual was photo-captured at 3,436 m.


“They are residents of the area, and are reproducing there, which indicates that there is enough food and forest cover for them to do so,” the paper authored by Ramya Nair, Alemba Yimkhiung, Hankiumong Yimkhiung, Kiyanmong Yimkhiung, Yapmuli Yimkhiung, Toshi Wungtung, Avinash Basker and Sahil Nijhawan, also reads.

Eric Kilby

Spotting these wild cats at such high altitudes reinforces the idea that the clouded leopards are the most skilful and strongest climbers among all the cats. They can reach 25 to 50 pounds weigh, and their incredible long (some say the longest comparing to the body) teeth make them great hunters.

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