Rare image shows clouded leopard spotted in wild for first time in 20 years

A rare Clouded Leopard has been caught on camera living in the wild for the first time in 20 years.

Four images were captured by a camera trap on the Thailand-Cambodian border in what wildlife officials say is the only sighting in two decades.

The distinct tortoiseshell pattered coat could be seen in the images released by Thailand’s national parks department.

The big cat, whose name is earned by its cloud-like spots, was spotted in the Phanom Dong Rak mountains near Isaan, according to Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, local director of protected areas.

Clouded leopards are considered “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List, with a worldwide population estimated to be fewer than 10,000.

It is registered for protection under CITES, the international law protecting wildlife to which Thailand is a signatory and is already extinct in its native Singapore and Taiwan.

These four images were captured after the camera trap was installed for just 24 days on November 1.

Rare image shows clouded leopard spotted in wild for first time in 20 years 1

The leopard was snapped on Wednesday, November 18.

Before the trap was removed the following Tuesday, it also recorded a gazelle, hog badger, dhole and coral-billed ground cuckoo as well as deer.

According to the IUCN Red List, the Clouded Leopard is hunted for the illegal wildlife trade.

Large numbers of skins have been seen in market surveys, and there is also trade in bones for medicines, meat for exotic dishes and live animals for the pet trade.

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