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Behind snow leopards’ repopulation on Chinese plateau are economic transition and changed local lives

Since two snow leopards – a mother and her cub – were captured by an infrared camera in the mountains on the night of September 30, 2020, the Beishan Forest Farm has repeatedly found traces of the big cats, whether footprints or attacks on livestock.

Locals say this proves the efforts in conserving the ecological environment in the past two decades has been a success.

The leopards’ casual tussle excited scientists extremely. It was the first time that snow leopards had been captured on the eastern end of the Qilian Mountains by camera in the farm of Northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

Snow leopards captured by an infrared camera in Qilian Mountains in September 2020.

“Some local residents over 60 years old said they heard there were snow leopards here, but nobody had ever seen them,” Zhao Changhong, director of Beishan Forest Farm, said.

As the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau ecosystem’s flagship species, snow leopards’ existence could dictate how healthy the local ecosystem is.

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