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Wild snow leopards caught on camera at Mt. Qomolangma

By Source:Xinhua 2016-04-01

LHASA, March 30 (Xinhua) -- A large number of endangered snow leopards were caught on camera on the north face of Mt. Qomolangma, researchers said Wednesday.

A total of 17,304 photos were taken by 64 infrared cameras placed in Gyirong County of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, said Lhapa Tsering, an official with the Administration Bureau of the Qomolangma reserve.

Among the photos, 606 contained snow leopards and the rest captured movements of lynxes, red foxes, bharal blue sheep, golden eagles and other endangered animals.

The Mt. Qomolangma Snow Leopard Conservation Center and the Wildlife Institute of Beijing Forestry University surveyed the population density of wild snow leopards in Dingri and Gyirong counties on the north face of the mountain from October to November of 2015.

In January, researchers found clear images of snow leopards from seven infrared cameras they had placed in Dingri County at an altitude of 4,000 meters.

Gao Yufang, executive director of the Mt. Qomolangma Snow Leopard Conservation Center, said the population of snow leopards in the area still cannot be determined, but researchers will come up with more specific protection plans for the animals after collecting more information on their population, prey and habitat.

Snow leopards, one of China's Class A protected animals, are usually found in the Himalayas in central and south Asia at altitudes between 3,000 and 5,500 meters.

The animal has rarely been seen in the wild over the last century due to loss of habitat and poaching. An estimated less than 10,000 snow leopards live in the wild worldwide, with about 2,500 to 3,500 in China.

The 34,000-square-km Qomolangma National Reserve was set up in 1988 at an average altitude of 4,200 meters. It is the world's highest nature reserve.

Snow leopards were also spotted in the autonomous region's Qiangtang plateau and Qamdo.

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