URUMQI, April 22 (Xinhua) -- A snow leopard was rescued and released back into the wild by a herdsman and police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region last week.
The herdsman, Aldalbek, told the police when he found a leopard crouching beside his sheepfold in Qinghe County on the morning of April 15.
Police confirmed it was an adult snow leopard with no obvious injuries. As it was too weak to move, the police transported the leopard to the county forest police station.
Li Jiang, head of the police station, said that it drank a little water and ate some meat and offal in the afternoon. The leopard regained its vitality the next day.
The police invited a veterinarian to check the health of the leopard on Monday. The vet said it was in good health and could be released, so on Tuesday it was set free.
Snow leopards are a Class A protected animal in China and are classified as "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They live in the Himalayas of central and south Asia at an altitude of 2,500 to 4,500 meters. They have been spotted in China's Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan and Xinjiang.
The animal has rarely been seen in the wild this century due to loss of habitat and poaching. According to official statistics released in 2015,there were an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards living in the wild, in addition to around 650 in captivity worldwide.