A pair of forest rangers recently discovered a paralyzed snow leopard suffering in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.
Located in western China, the high-altitude region called the “Roof of the World” houses over 1,000 snow leopards, a significant number of the global population. Researchers estimate that between 2,500 to 10,000 snow leopards are in existence, with a projected decline of at least 10% over the next 22 years or three generations.
The leopard, which appeared to be in immediate need of care and attention, was spotted by the two rangers patrolling Nangchen county, Qinghai province on October 16. They took the injured animal to a temple nearby and contacted the local environmental protection agency.
According to China News Service (via South China Morning Post), the local government immediately assembled a rescue team to rush to the aid of the animal, which was later discovered to be too weak to even walk or eat. However, the team’s efforts to save the leopard were hampered by their lack of veterinary training and supplies.
Nangchen county deputy mayor then reached out to Beijing-based environmental protection group, Qiaonyu Foundation, for assistance. The charity organization sent a team of experts to examine the animal and plan for its treatment. Based on the specialists’ diagnosis, the snow leopard has a spinal cord injury, causing paralysis to its hind legs. The experts’ findings further suggest that the animal had been suffering for days. As the rescued leopard is currently recovering from the initial treatment, experts are still reviewing further treatment plans that may enable it to walk again in the future.
According to Xinhua, the conservation status of the snow leopard was recently downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).