Let’s talk about the Clouded Leopard.

There are those who claim that the entire purpose of the Internet is to share cat photos and cat videos. Forget e-commerce, forget Wikipedia, forget checking email or posting your social media status. Unless, of course, you are posting something about your cat.

The team behind the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 prize have their own favorite Internet cat, of course, and we have chosen this beautiful animal as our mascot. Sadly, the clouded leopard is endangered, and while our primary focus is to highlight the best and brightest cloud startups with the competition, we are also happy to highlight the plight of poor Neofelis nebulosa.

According to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, the clouded leopard’s forest habitat is undergoing the world’s fastest regional deforestation rates — over 10% in the past ten years. In 2007, its total effective population size was estimated to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with no single population numbering more than 1,000 animals.

The clouded leopard is described by the IUCN as intermediate in size between large and small cats, with wild females from Thailand weighing 11.5-13.5 kg and males 16-18 kg. As you can see, its coat is patterned with distinctive large cloud shaped markings.

For a large cat, the clouded leopard is highly arboreal, and they are strongly associated with forest habitat, particularly primary evergreen tropical rainforest, but there are also records from dry and deciduous forest, as well as secondary and logged forests. The cats have been recorded in the Himalayas up to 2,500 m and possibly as high as 3,000 m. Less frequently, they have been found in grassland and scrub, dry tropical forests and mangrove swamps.

The Wildscreen Arkive site adds that the clouded leopard is an agile, almost monkey-like tree climber and has been observed hanging from branches from its rear feet upside down. Unlike your typical housecat, it is also described as a capable swimmer.

Check out the Wildscreen site lots of photos, videos and other information about the clouded leopard.

Follow the Clouded Leopards Den 2015 competition at #CloudLeopardDen – and keep the endangered animal in your thoughts.