Clouded leopards, a rarely seen wild animal living throughout the forests of Southeast Asia, have recently been caught on camera strolling through the bushes of the Tongbiguan Nature Reserve in southwest China's Yunnan Province.
The images of the clouded leopards, one of the world's most secretive wild cats, were catalogued by local conservationists when they were selecting recorded footage from the infrared cameras placed across the nature reserve for an environmental initiative jointly launched by China Central Television (CCTV) and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
Known as "A Peek Into the Wild", the initiative aims to raise public awareness of environmental protection projects in China through airing short TV episodes featuring video of wild animals and well preserved ecosystems on the state broadcaster CCTV.
As a result of combing through the footage, conservationists were pleasantly surprised to get images of three clouded leopards roaming as a group, a rare scene for the solitary cat.
"Clouded leopards are a first class national protected animal. Apart from spotting three of them under one camera when sorting out images and videos, we found that four infrared cameras at different altitudes also captured images of clouded leopards between last December and January of this year. These materials would greatly help us study the distribution, habits and population status of clouded leopards in the reserve," said Yu Xuanwen, director of a substation of the Tongbiguan Nature Reserve Management Bureau.
Clouded leopards are a medium-sized wild cat with short but strong limbs and enormous paws to help it grip onto tree branches. The animal features a thick and long tail that measures about the same length as its body, and dusky-grey blotches yielding the clouded patterns all over its fur.
Clouded leopards can be found all over Southeast Asia, with only a few living in southern China, and they are often active at night.