SHIJIAZHUANG, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- A rare leopard was captured on a security camera set up in a villager's sheep pen in north China's Hebei Province in the early morning Friday.
The video, shot in Shangquanzi Village in Chengde city, shows the leopard breaking into the pen of local villager Wang Youmin and stirring up the sheep herd. It was later chased out of the pen with flashlights.
Feng Liming, associate professor of Beijing Normal University, said the big cat is an Amur leopard, a rare leopard subspecies found in northern China, judging by the size, shape of the tail and spots on the body.
The Amur leopard is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List and a first-class protected animal in China.
Wang said this is not the first time the leopard has broken into his house. The previous break-in happened on Monday when the leopard mauled a sheep to death in the pen and fled with a lamb.
The leopard's presence in the mountain village came as quite a surprise to many locals.
Li Xiang, an 88-year-old local villager, said he has never heard of reports of Amur leopards in the village despite other reports of wolves, foxes and badgers over the years.
The village is located about 300 meters away from a local forest park. The local government has banned cutting trees in the forests for over a decade. So far, there are 1,000 hectares of forest, covering 90 percent of the village, according to Wang Xinfang, Party head of the village.
"It's exciting to see the video," Feng said, "the Amur leopard is at the top of the food chain, its presence shows the local eco-system has recovered well."
Feng is leading a research team supported by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and the National Nature Science Foundation on conducting relevant research.
"The team will continue to investigate the wild leopard population, and try to find out more about the species," Feng said.