WATCH: Rare Snow Leopard Spotted in Northwest China

By Yihan Chen, June 5, 2019

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The Anxi Nature Reserve in North China’s Gansu province recently announced that a snow leopard has been spotted on the arid reserve. 

This is an exciting development, as snow leopards have not been sighted there since the establishment of the reserve in 1987, more than 30 years ago. 

The Anxi Nature Reserve and Lanzhou University partnered up in 2012 to set up a field observation team, who placed 62 infrared cameras at the site. When researchers collected the field data, the team found three separate instances of snow leopard sightings: on September 27, September 28 and November 17 of 2018. (It’s not clear whether the sightings were of one or more snow leopards).

Image via Anxi Nature Reserve

The images were collected at an altitude of 2,604 meters, close to the northwest edge of Qilian Mountain. Snow leopards are known to live in high elevation areas above the tree line and up to 5,400 meters above sea level. 

Image via Anxi Nature Reserve

Additionally, sightings of other endangered species in the region, such as the Mongolian khulan and Northern ibex, have increased. This, along with the appearance of the large cat(s), validates the nature reserve’s conservation efforts. 

The images captured by the camera traps can provide new scientific data to study snow leopards’ habitats and the current distribution of the species.

Watch below to see the curious big cat investigate the camera (VPN off):   

Snow leopards live in Central and South Asia, ranging from eastern Afghanistan to Mongolia and western China. Although they are at the top of the food chain of the highland ecosystem, they are ranked as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. 

Additional research by Phoebe Kut

READ MORE: 5 Rare Leopard Cats Spotted in Shenzhen

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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