Rare snow leopard found at foot of Mount Everest

www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-18 12:24:59

LHASA, March 18 (Xinhua) — Farmers in Tibet have found a snow leopard at the northern foot of Mount Qomolangma, also known as Everest, said the local forestry department.

The leopard was spotted near Cangmujian Village, Rongxia Township in Tingri, a county in southern Tibet early this month, said the Tingri County Forestry Department.

According to villagers, the big cat was an adult 120 cm long and about 50 cm tall, and it had a 120 cm tail. But the sex of the animal is unknown.

Villagers trapped the animal in a cave after it killed an adult cow, said the forestry department. The department and the Mount Qomolangma Administration sent workers to investigate. They effectively persuaded the villagers to free the leopard.

Snow leopards live in mountains and plateaus across China, Afghanistan, India and Nepal. The number of surviving wild snow leopards is estimated at 3,500, more than half of which live in the remote high mountains of northwest Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan in China, said the International Snow Leopard Trust (ISLT).

The animal has rarely been seen in the wild recently and is worth a great deal to poachers.

According to Liu Wulin, a Tibet-based forestry expert, the last capture of a snow leopard, a female one aged five to six, took place in December 2007 in Qijia Village in Gonghe County, Hainan Tibet Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province, northwest China.