A wild snow leopard that killed 50 sheep has been captured and put in a zoo in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
The big cat haunted the Qijia village, Gonghe county of the province, and attacked the sheep before angry villagers finally decided to hunt it.
They chased the leopard on motorcycles and roped the beast after lengthy fight.
When villagers were told that the wild snow leopard they had snared was under first class protection along with the panda, they decided to hand it to the Xining Zoo in the capital city of the province rather than kill it.
"The animal, aged five or six, was caught alive by the villagers only because it had been without food for several days and was weak," said Xu Shuren, head of the zoo and expert on wild animal protection.
There are believed to be between 5,000 and 7,500 snow leopards left in the wild and around 500 in captivity, mainly in Asia.
Qinghai had an estimated 900 to 1,200 wild snow leopards, Xu said.
The demand for snow leopard pelts in some countries had led to a great drop their numbers.
(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2007)