Here in the barren landscape of the Burhan Budai Mountains, in China’s northwest Qinghai Province, wildlife
photographer Matse Rangja trudges his way along rocky cliffs and steep hills. But the landscape doesn’t daunt him. An ethnic Tibetan, Rangja is used to this kind of terrain. He’s seeking a rare glimpse of an animal he’s only seen once in 8 years of wildlife photography—the cryptic snow leopard
15,000 feet high he lays out his infrared camera.
[Matse Rangja, Wildlife Photographer]:
“Because I would make notice of the foot prints and excrement of snow leopard
s when I'm on picture trip. And if I find the footprints, I will hide my camera nearby.”
With only 5 to 7 thousand snow leopard
s in the entire world, his odds aren’t too good.
But this time it pays off. A lone snow leopard wanders by. February is the snow leopard’s mating time. But after sniffing around and a quick peak at the camera, it realizes there’s no mate to be found here.
Snow leopards are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List of Threatened Species. Human encroachment and poaching have taken a toll on the local population.
[Zhangyu, Senior Engineer, Qinghai Department of Forestry]:
”Currently, there is no definite number in China or overseas to say how many snow leopards left in Qinghai Province, in China or across the globe. We can only say that there is an average of 3.1 snow leopards every 100 square kilometers.”
This isn’t the first video of the snow leopard Rangja has captured. In October of last year, he released footage
of a snow leopard prowling at night.