Tibet steps up efforts to protect snow leopards

Updated: 2014-05-14 18:18

By Hu Yongqi and Palden Nyima in Lhasa (chinadaily.com.cn)

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A protection center for snow leopards has been set up in the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve in the Tibet autonomous region, local authorities said.

As a joint project by the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve Administration and the Vanke Public Welfare Foundation, the center aims to establish a platform integrating all resources for the protection of snow leopards.

"It is essential to observe and survey the snow leopards to clarify their current living conditions, and it is required to call on human beings to treasure the endangered species," said Buchung, deputy director of the administration.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, covering most of the Tibet autonomous region, is a major home for the leopards, which are a symbolic animal in the region.

In a bid to protect the plateaus' ecological system, the Qomolangma nature preserve was upgraded to a national nature reserve in 1994.

The establishment of the center means that increasing efforts will be made to safeguard snow leopards.

In addition, it will help to harmonize the relationship between wild animals and human beings in a time that fast economic growth might jeopardize the animals' natural habitat, Buchung said.

Buchung added that the population of snow leopards is increasing in recent years thanks to great efforts by governments and other organizations to protect the species.

The number of snow leopards has seen a sharp increase in the past 20 years, which has unfortunately also resulted in local residents reporting more than 40 cases of snow leopards attacking livestock in 2012, he said.

Some residents and nature preserve workers said that the animals occasionally posed a threat to animals of herders nearby but it was very rare that the snow leopards attacked people, according to the administration.

"It is estimated that the Vanke Public Welfare Foundation plans to invest more than 3 million yuan ($481,500) in the next three years to accelerate research and protection in the region," Buchung said.

The nature preserve administration added that it will hire more employees and organize a team of experts specializing in snow leopard research and protection to formulate specific measures to protect the animals.

Contact the writers at huyongqi@chinadaily.com.cn and huadannm@chinadaily.com.cn