Rare leopard spotted in panda habitat
CHENGDU, July 25 (Xinhua) -- A leopard has been caught on camera in a nature reserve that is a major habitat for giant pandas, the administration of the reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province said Wednesday.
The pictures and videos caught by an infrared camera showed the yellow and black leopard roaming in an area at an altitude of 4,080 meters in Wolong National Nature Reserve.
Experts have not yet confirmed which sub-species the leopard belongs to.
Due to habitat fragmentation and less prey, China's leopard population has been decreasing. The animal is rarely seen in the wild.
Leopards are under China's highest national-level protection and are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The same camera has previously captured the pictures of snow leopards on seven different occasions. The footage has provided important information for research on wild highland animals.
Li Sheng, a researcher with the School of Life Sciences at Peking University, said that thanks to a large habitat with abundant prey, different species of leopards co-exist in the reserve.
Li said that the long-term protection efforts of the reserve have yielded good results. A complete and sound ecosystem has been preserved for endangered wildlife and rare plants.
Wolong National Nature Reserve, covering 200,000 hectares in Sichuan's Wenchuan County, was founded in 1963 as the "home of the giant panda."