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Villager finds snow leopard in Inner Mongolia | Updated: 2013-03-14 20:46

A villager has discovered an adult snow leopard in the wild, the authorities in Alxa Left Banner in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region's Alxa League, said on Wednesday.

It is the first time the endangered species has been seen in Alxa League in the past 70 years, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Snow leopards are listed as grade one protected animals in China. They were widespread in the Helan Mountains and desert in the area before the 1940s but the population has since shrunk.

Luxury clothing made from snow leopard fur was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, largely encouraging poachers. This is considered a key reason for the declining numbers.

The Snow Leopard Trust, an international organization based in Seattle in the United States, was founded in 1981 to promote better protection of the animal through an observation network in different countries, including China.

Luo Xiaochun, deputy head of the banner government, said the autonomous region's wild animal protection center has been contacted to care for the newly discovered leopard.

Snow leopards can be seen in numbers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and some areas of the Pamir Mountains.

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