With scientists and conservationists saying that the Earth is currently undergoing the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals and species going extinct at up to 1000, to 10,000 the natural, rate, the world is going downhill, fast. However, very rarely, everyone is reminded that it’s perhaps not too late.
One of these rare occasions has just occurred in Taiwan where a rare species of large cat, the Formosan clouded leopard, has just been spotted in the wilderness by a number of people across the archipelago’s southeast region. The leopard has been spotted walking around in the countryside near Taitung County’s Daren Township, where the area’s Paiwan tribal authorities had formed indigenous ranger groups to patrol the region and guard the sensitive areas.
Species hasn’t been sighted since 1983
This is actually great news because this particular species of Leopard hasn’t been officially sighted since 1983, more than 35 years ago, and 6 years ago, in 2013, it was officially decades as extinct. This gives hope to many other animals that were once thought to be extinct. Maybe they are still out there somewhere. It was first spotted by a group of rangers when it suddenly climbed up a tree and then scrambled up a cliff side to go and hunt for goats. Another group also spotted it when it darted in front of their scooter before quickly claiming another tree and disappearing from sight for good. Even though the group didn’t manage to see it again, at least they know it exists and was able to report back about it.
Tribal members want to stop hunting in the area
As soon as the news was heard, a tribal meeting was held by the locals to discuss how is best to move forward. The tribal members of the village are aiming to stop hunting in the area by outsiders, while village elders are lobbying Taiwanese authorities to end logging and other activities that harm the land, and potentially this rare animal as well. The Formosan is known to be quite agile and vigilant, eluding human attempts to trap or otherwise capture it, so it’s somewhat of a mystery that should probably just be left in its natural habitat.
Historical records of the rare cat date back to around the 13th century, when indigenous people brought the leopard’s pelts to trade at the busy markets of port cities like Tainan. Many believe that Japanese anthropologist Torii Ryūzō, in 1900, was the only non-indigenous person to have actually seen a live Formosan clouded leopard.