Scientists and ecologists warn that our planet is currently undergoing the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. With species estimated to be going extinct at a rapid rate of pto 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.
Even with the alarming rates, it may not be too late for after all. This came after the recent spotting of a Formosan clouded leopard. The rare large cat species was seen in Taiwan. The news came as a happy surprise for many since the cat had never been officially sighted since 1983 and was declared extinct in 2013.
Historical records of this leopard dates back to the 13th century when indigenous people bought its pelts as a unit of trade at the busy markets of port cities. It is belived that Japanese anthropologist Torii Ryuzo was the last non-indegeous person to ever see the cat in 1900.
However, this leopard has been spotted multiple times in the wilderness across the archipelago’s southeast. People had seen it prowling the countryside near Taitung country’s Daren Township.
The Paiwan tribal authroties spotted the leopard while they partrolled one of the sensitive areas they guarded. The leopard localy known as Liulijaw holds a sacred place among the locals was seen climbing a tree before scrambling up a cliff to hunt for goats.
Another group saw the Asian cat after it darted past a scooter before quickly climbing a tree and vanishing into the bushes. This finding is of extrememly important to the locals who are now holding tribal meetings to discuss their next steps.
Tribal leaders belive that their patrols could prevent sport hunting by outsiders. The village elders urge authorities to end logging and other environment destructive activities.
According to Taiwan News, “Pan Chih-hua (潘志華), head of the Alangyi’s tribal conference, confirmed to CNA on Saturday that the men from his village did indeed spot the Formosan clouded leopard in the wild, but were reluctant to disclose the time and location of their sightings.
Liu said it was no surprise that the animal has not been seen by a human being in more than two decades because it is vigilant and cannot be trapped or easily caught by hunters in the wild.”
professor Liu Chiung-his from Taitung University’s Department of Life Science has met several hunters from the indigenous Bunun people who admitted capturing the animal several times in the late 1990s. They had however burnt the bodies to avoid consequences for violating the Taiwan’s Wildlife Conservation Act.
A team of zoologists from the U.S and Taiwan had previously toured the region from 2001 and 2013 but never spotted any of these leopards. This eventually led to the declaration of the Formosan clouded leopard officially extinct.
Since the leopard was declared extinct, it had never been spotted until this week.
However, the IFL science was extra careful with the news. It released an official statement:
“In January of this year, Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau released its latest Schedule of Protected Wildlife and the Formosan clouded leopard is still listed as category I. Chao Ren-fang, a professor at the Institute of Biology at I-Shou University, who was involved in the conservation listing review, told the Central News Agency: “It would be a big event to remove the Formosa clouded leopard from the list.” It would require taking into consideration societal perceptions as there could be a backlash from the indigenous community, he added.”