China / Society

Endangered snow leopard spotted in NW China

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-10-13 16:57

XINING - Rare footage of a snow leopard wandering down the main street of county town in Northwest China's Qinghai Province may offer a sign of recovery for the endangered species.

The video clip was captured Saturday by Sangdru, a villager in Zadoi County in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai.

"I was driving home from work when I saw the large white cat with black spots strolling around the road," said Sangdru. It was proved to be a snow leopard by local authorities later on.

The 34-second video, shot from a close distance, shows the snow leopard moving casually along the road, unaware of car headlights and people shouting.

Sangdru and other villagers then used their cars to herd the snow leopard into a nearby forest.

The video went viral shortly after being uploaded.

"It's not the first time we saw a snow leopard," a witness told Xinhua.

As one of the most endangered species in the world, snow leopards have been spotted in Nangchen, another County in Yushu, three times this year, with one wandering into a cattle yard.

"It seemed that the snow leopard was enjoying the sunshine at that moment," said Wang Dongmei, Cultural Affairs Bureau of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Snow leopards are usually found in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Pamir Plateau at altitudes over 3,500 meters, but have rarely been seen in the wild since 1980s due to loss of habitat and poaching.

It is estimated that the world has less than 5,000 snow leopards, making it an endangered species.

"Snow leopards in China account for nearly 40 percent of the total number in the world," said Liu Yanlin from Shanshui Conservation Center, an environmental protection NGO. "The frequent appearance of snow leopards in Yushu shows its numbers are increasing."

At the International Snow Leopard Forum held in Yushu this July, experts from a range of countries believed that Yushu now has the largest number of snow leopards in the world.

However, with its frequent appearances, cases of livestock injuries and deaths have been reported. The local government has since worked with herdsman to show them how to protect against the leopards and has began offering livestock insurance and compensation.

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