Frequently overshadowed by bigger, better known inhabitants of India’s jungles, such as the tiger, elephant and leopard, little is known about the clouded leopard. . A smaller member of the “big cat” group, this creature, weighing between 11kg and 20 kg,
is found in the jungles of north Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya as well as China and parts of south east Asia.
Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling has begun its first survey of the clouded leopard in an attempt to find out more about this elusive, endangered species. The survey hopes to find out the estimated clouded leopard population of the park, as well as observing
daytime and nocturnal behaviour and its prey base.
The year-long study, jointly carried out by the state forest department and Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS), a voluntary organisation, will also look at eco-tourism prospects in the park. The 88 square kilometre park is also home to the endangered
red panda and musk deer. Other species include leopard, five species of civet, black bear, sloth bear, golden cat, wild boar, barking deer, sambar, Himalayan flying squirrel and Thar.
SOURCE : The Statesman, Friday, January 19, 2007