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An 'Extinct' Taiwanese Leopard Was Spotted For The First Time In 36 Years

Emily Reily 5 Mar 2019

The Formosan clouded leopard was a beautiful animal that was endemic to Taiwan and hadn't been seen since 1983. Or so everyone thought.

1. Do We Have Proof?

Twitter | @NatureSuperLit

Website themindunleashed.com is reporting that the Formosan clouded leopard has been seen near Daren Township, in Taitung County. It's also unclear whether the picture above that accompanies @NatureSuperLit tweet, and which is referenced in themindunleashed.com, is of the newly spotted leopard or a file photo.

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2. Formerly Extinct In 2013

Flickr | getaiwan

The Formosan clouded leopard was officially declared extinct in 2013 after a team of zoologists searched from 2001 to 2013 and found no sight of it.

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3. 'Really, Really Good At Hiding'

"This is awesome. But I wonder where they've been hiding. They are really, really good at it. Taiwan has beautiful swaths of undisturbed nature, but it's still a pretty small island," wrote @Maranathakurios.

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4. Tribal Members Seek End To Logging

The story adds that tribal members want to stop the spread of hunting in Taiwan and are lobbying authorities in the country to halt logging, which harms animals' habitats.

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5. Spotted In Daren Township

From themindunleashed.com: "The leopard had been spotted prowling 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 sensitive areas."

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6. Leopard Supposedly Found Climbing a Tree

Flickr | KrooneGallery

Citing Taiwan News, the story adds that the leopard, called Li'uljaw, was spotted climbing a tree, while others saw the animal "dart past a scooter" and then climbed a tree and disappeared. It's unclear if it's the same animal in both occasions.

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7. Some In Taiwan Don't Even Want To Confirm It's Extinct

Taiwan News writes that scholars and tribes there are hesitant to remove it from the Forestry Bureau's endangered species list, despite the fact that no one had seen one in more than 30 years.

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8. The Formosan Clouded Leopard Is Sacred

One reason may be because the animal is a symbol for the country and its ecological endeavors. The Formosan clouded leopard is also considered sacred to the Paiwan tribe, according to Taiwan News. The leopard has been a sort of poster child for animals endemic to Taiwan, so removing it from the extinct list could have long-reaching consequences.

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9. 'An Embarrassing Problem'

"This is an embarrassing problem, and the conservationist community is reluctant to face it or announce its extinction," said Chao Ren-fang of the Institute of Biology at I-Shou University.

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10. Dissenting Opinions

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Extinct_animals_(Page_141)_BHL20384724.jpg

Shia Jung-sheng of the Forestry Bureau's Conservation Department says experts will have to meet and determine whether to delist the animal. The problem is that there is no definite consensus either way on the animal's status.

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11. We Need To See More

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Astropecten_lorioli.jpg

IFL Science says it's not completely unusual for an animal to not be seen for years and then suddenly reappear, but more research and sightings may be needed to remove the Formosan clouded leopard from the extinct list.

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