Rare snow leopards spotted in NW China’s Qilian Mountains

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/8 18:57:31

Photo taken on April 27, 2020 shows a snow leopard at the Xining Wildlife Park in Xining, northwest China's Qinghai Province. Two snow leopard cubs born at the Xining Wildlife Park in northwest China's Qinghai Province 11 months ago, made their official debut Monday. (Xinhua/Zhang Long)

Two rare snow leopards have been spotted in the eastern end of Qilian Mountains in Qinghai Province for the first time, indicating a wider distribution area of the protected animal, reported the Xinhua News on Wednesday. 

A snow leopard research team of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said one of its infrared cameras captured footage of two snow leopards playing in a national park in the east end of the Qilian Mountains on September 4, which the team leader said is "of great significance."

Lian Xinming, associate researcher of the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology at CAS, said the discovery extends the distribution area of snow leopards to the easternmost edge of the Qilian Mountains. 

There have been suspected sightings of snow leopards in east Qinghai before, but none have ever been confirmed.

The snow leopard, often found near the alpine snowline in the Asian heartland, has been dubbed "the king of snow mountains." It is a Class A protected animal in China and is classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

The research team also captured footage of other state-protected species in east Qinghai including the sika deer musk, spot-tailed hazel chickens and red-throated pheasant partridge.

"It is unimaginable that there is such rich biodiversity in an area with frequent human activity, which also shows the harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife," Lian said to the Xinhua News.

The richness of the ecosystem types in Qinghai is the reason why it has nurtured such a rich diversity of species, in addition to the consistent efforts from the natural forest protection project, which aims to restore forests in Western China, experts said. 

Global Times


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