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The status of snow leopards Panthera uncia, and high altitude use by common leopards P. pardus, in north-west Yunnan, China

  • Paul J. Buzzard (a1), Xueyou Li (a2) and William V. Bleisch (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The Endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia is a flagship species of mountainous Asia and a conservation priority. China is the most important country for the species’ conservation because it has the most potential habitat and the largest population of snow leopards. North-west Yunnan province in south-west China is at the edge of the snow leopard's range, and a biodiversity hotspot, where three major Asian rivers, the Yangtze, Mekong and Salween, flow off the Tibetan plateau and cut deep valleys through the Hengduan Mountains. The snow leopard's status in north-west Yunnan is uncertain. We conducted interviews and camera-trapping surveys to assess the species’ status at multiple sites: two east of the Yangtze River and two between the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers. Thirty-eight herders/nature reserve officials interviewed claimed that snow leopards were present, but in 6,300 camera-trap days we did not obtain any photographs of snow leopards, so if the species is present, it is rare. However, we obtained many photographs of potential prey, such as blue sheep Pseudois nayaur, as well as photographs of common leopards Panthera pardus, at high elevations (3,000–4,500 m). More study is necessary in Yunnan and other areas of south-west China to investigate the status and resource overlap of snow leopards and common leopards, especially as climate change is resulting in increases in common leopard habitat and decreases in snow leopard habitat.

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Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail pbuzzard@dzs.org
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Current address: Detroit Zoological Society, 8450 West 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067, USA

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References
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Oryx
  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
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