Beside the five official members of the genus Panthera (Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard and Snow Leopard) there are five more cat species which do not quite fit into the ‘small cat definition’ as they are rather large and/or have very special features. I will introduce these over the next few days.
Today it is my two favorite cat species: The Clouded Leopards (Neofelis.nebulosa and Neofelis.diardi)
They have large, paws with adapted footpads for gripping branches. Specialized anklebones allow varied position for climbing, including climbing headfirst down trees. Another distinctive feature is their very long canine teeth. For a long time they were considered the ‘link’ between small and big cats. Today they are classified as big cats, but are still within their own genus. Neofelis with its two species the Mainland Clouded Leopard (Himalayas/SouthEast Asia/China) and the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Borneo/Sumatra) are considered arboreal cat species (living in trees).
Recently I have been asked which is my favorite animal. Not an easy question to answer. I enjoy all creatures and my favorite photo models are cats of all sorts. But if I have to choose one than it is Clouded Leopards.
I worked with these amazing mammals during my time in the Nashville Zoo and it would be great to photograph them in the wild.
I am featuring a species per week on my social media channels. Here is a summary of the last week’s posts (and some blog bonus images). I hope you enjoy some of my favorite Clouded Leopard pictures :-).
The Clouded Leopard (Neofelis) is considered to form an evolutionary link between the big cats (Pantherinae) and the small cats (Felinae). It represents the smallest of the big cats, but despite its name, it is not closely related to the Leopard. Compared to body size it has the longest canine teeth of any cat and unlike all other big cats it can purr.
An artist named Martyn Norris has recently asked for permission to use one of my Clouded Leopard images as a basis for one of his drawings. I really like the result – thanks Martyn!
And looking at this image took me back to when I was working as photographer and photography teacher at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. I really enjoyed my time in Nashville and I miss my friends in the Music City USA. I hope to visit again, soon.
The main job of Thanda’s expert trackers is to find and interpret the signs which animals leave when they move through the bush. Foot imprints, droppings/dung , broken branches, depressed grass and cut leaves lying around the ground are only a few of these marks. Thanda guests are always fascinated to see how our Zulu trackers are able to pick up these signs.
This collage shows one of Thanda’s beautiful Leopard males and very visible Leopard footprints. Unfortunately most of the time the tracks are not that clear and obvious 🙂
I promised a few more images from my recent trip to the USA. I am still working on sorting out all the images, but I had to put these four together to a collage. Thanks to Chris M. for taking me around the zoo during my visit to see all my old friends.
As much as I love my cats at home (Lion, Leopard and Cheetah) I miss the Eurasian Lynx, the Bengal Tigers, the Clouded Leopards and the Cougars/Mountain Lions at the Nashville Zoo. Jackson, the old gentlemen in this picture (mountain lion) is one of my favourite (and one of Heather’s favourite, too :-).
About hundred people showed up for yesterday evening’s presentation at the Nashville Zoo. I did not expect such a turnout for my Keppers of the Wild talk. I also held the same presentation earlier in the day for the zoo staff, which was also very well attended.
Tomorrow I will be exhibiting at the Nashville First Saturday Art Crawl (Details at http://wp.me/p1rzfb-16C) – ZULULAND – WILDLIFE AND PEOPLE IN THE AFRICAN SOUTH …
… and next Wednesday I will give another talk TWO YEARS IN THE WILD at the Cookeville Camera Club (Details at http://wp.me/p1rzfb-16r).
Today’s image is of a Clouded Leopard at the Nashville Zoo. Drupada, a young male, was giving me “the look”!