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URUMQI, August 19, Chinadaily -- A pilot snow leopard protection project was launched Thursday in the eastern Tianshan Mountains, a major habitat of the species in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Forest Public_Security-8.20-Snow_leopard_protection_project_launched_in_Xinjiang

A snow leopard image captured by an infrared camera at Altai Liangheyuan Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo provided by WWF China]

The memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Beijing office of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the local forest and wildlife administration.

According to He Bing, snow leopard project manager at WWF's Beijing office, the pilot project in Xinjiang involves installing more infrared cameras in the region, training staff on snow leopard protection, strengthening patrols, preserving habitats, and increasing public awareness through forums, seminars, and documentaries.

The snow leopard is a Class-A protected animal in China and the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies it as vulnerable.

The global population of snow leopards has been decreasing due to factors such as poaching, habitat fragmentation, and less prey.

"The snow leopard is a species on the top of the protection agenda for WWF. We have launched programs in most countries where snow leopards are distributed, such as Russia, Mongolia, and Nepal," said He. In 2016, the snow leopard protection program started in China.

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