Snow leopard sightings in west
Updated: 2006-02-17 16:32
Chinese researchers captured five big cats on film on a mountain in country's northwest, their first clear sightings after a year of tracking the elusive big cats. Scientists across the border in
"This is a very encouraging achievement," said Ma Ming, a Chinese researcher with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography. "It was really hard to track snow leopards down due to their nature and habits, since they live at high altitudes and usually only come out after dark."
The shots in
The snow leopard lives in mountains and plateaus scattered across
Ma said the sightings suggest the number of snow leopards in Xinjiang may be higher than expected.
A report by the official Xinhua News Agency said the cameras, which are triggered by animals' body heat, also captured shots of ibexes, wild boars and partridge-like bird known as chukars _ all potential prey for snow leopards.
The researchers, whose institute is affiliated with the government's China Academy of Sciences, are conducting the country's first comprehensive survey of wild snow leopards, a project partly funded by the World Wildlife Fund, the report said.
A parallel study using 48 infrared cameras over 14 weeks was conducted in
The Chinese study is also focusing on poaching and trade in snow leopard products. Skins of the animal, which are a smoky-gray with dark gray spots, can sell for more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,200; euro1,000) _ a small fortune for people living in remote rural areas.
Ma said local authorities were making progress in protecting the leopards and have set up several nature reserves in the area.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Sign our petition here: