Rare image shows clouded leopard spotted in wild for first time in 20 years

A rare clouded leopard has been captured in the wild with the camera for the first time in 20 years.

Four photos were taken by a camera trap on the Thailand-Cambodian border, which conservationists say is the only sighting in two decades.

The distinctive turtle-flaked fur was seen in images released by Thailand’s National Parks Department.

The big cat, whose name is due to its cloud-like patches, was spotted in the Phanom Dong Rak mountains near Isaan, according to Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, local director of conservation areas.

Clouded leopards are considered “Vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List, with an estimated global population of less than 10,000.

It is registered for protection under CITES, the international wildlife protection law to which Thailand is a signatory, and is already extinct in its native Singapore and Taiwan.

These four images were taken after the camera trap was installed just 24 days on November 1.

Rare image shows clouded leopard spotted in wild for first time in 20 years

The leopard was snapped on Wednesday, November 18.

Before the trap was removed the following Tuesday, it also recorded a gazelle, pig badger, dhole and coral-billed cuckoo, as well as deer.

The clouded leopard is hunted for the illegal wildlife trade, according to the IUCN Red List.

Market studies have found large numbers of hides, bones for medicines, meat for exotic dishes and live animals for the pet trade.