Monday, September 18, 2006

Chinese peak to be base for snow leopard study

Winny Wang

The highest peak of Tianshan mountain will become a base for studying and protecting wild snow leopards, the International Snow Leopard Trust said after reviewing the Tuomuer peak in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Tom Tomas, an expert from the International Snow Leopard Trust, told Xinhua news agency that they have accomplished a series of surveys on snow leopard in the 7,435-meter-high Tuomuer, and from September, the trust began training representatives in the area to raise herdsmen's consciousness of protecting the endangered species.

The biggest threat to the snow leopards is humans, who damage their natural habitat.

Snow leopards usually live in 2,700 to 6,000-meter-high snow-capped mountains and plateaus in countries such as China, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, according to the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A meager 6,000 snow leopards exist in total now, most of which live in China.

A 1,000-square-kilometer protection area was set up there in 1980 to protect its rare plants and wild animals, such as snow leopards and wild horses. Peak_of_Tianshan_to_be_snow_leopards__039__haven.htm

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