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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 13:42 UK

Bangladesh rare leopard cub found

By Alastair Lawson
BBC News

Clouded leopard
The cat was thought to be extinct in Bangladesh

A critically endangered clouded leopard cub has been captured by tribespeople in a remote area of Bangladesh, a leading zoologist has told the BBC.

Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh (WTB) Chief Executive Mohammed Anwarul Islam said that the find was "exciting and hugely significant".

Many conservationists believed that clouded leopards were extinct in Bangladesh.

The WTB is now trying to secure the cub's release.

Professor Islam said that the cub was found by indigenous villagers near the town of Rangamati in the south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts in June.

"Obviously our long term aim is for it to be released into the jungle, but we have to be careful not to push our case too strongly," he said.

Map

"The villagers are understandably concerned that if they stop feeding it, it may die in the jungle without its mother."

Professor Islam said that the last time a clouded leopard had been spotted in Bangladesh was in 1992.

He said that the cat was considered extinct in the country because of habitat loss.

Local people reportedly saw the cub's mother and one of its siblings as they were feeding on a monkey.

They chased the leopard family away, but captured one of the cubs.

Clouded leopards used to live in forests around Mymensingh, Sylhet, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

They are solitary, nocturnal and arboreal cats. They are also one of the least studied leopards, principally because of their secretive and timid nature.

The species is considered to be vulnerable across Asia and is included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.



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