According to the Sichuan Forestry Department, snow leopard triplets have been found in a tunnel in Shiqu County, Sichuan Province, on September 3rd. This is the first sighting of 3 snow leopards cubs together in the wild by human eyes, an absolutely stunning and rare case in the whole world.
According to the report, one villager in Shiqu county found one dead blue sheep on September 1st, during his checking, he found three snow leopard cubs aged about three to four months in a small tunnel, however their mother was absent.
In the same afternoon, the local rangers arrived at the spot where the snow leopard cubs had been found. They were required by the Bureau of Agriculture and Forestry in Shi Qu county that they only observe from distance so that the mother leopard will not be disturbed. Under critical conditions, the rangers will immediately take measures to rescue the female snow leopard. But if the female snow leopard is in safe condition, all observation rangers will leave immediately so as to avoid human disturbance to the leopards.
According to the information, the area where the snow leopard triplets were spotted is within the Sichuan Provincial Nature Reserve for White-lipped Deer. This region is one of major habitats for snow leopards. From 2013 to 2017, infra-cameras have been installed for more than twenty times in this area to collect the images of snow leopards.
According to Sichuan Academy of Forestry Science, the accurate population of the snow leopard in this area is still unavailable. But it is certain that it should be over 30 based on the herdsmen’s sighting in the past. Snow leopards mainly inhabit in snowy mountains and bare rock areas which makes relative research quite difficult.
Professor Jianghong Ran specializing in Ecological Biology from Sichuan University commented that snow leopard live mainly in high elevation area, and has relatively small population, it is extremely rare to see triplets through human eyes, though with the improvement of ecological environment and the increased use of the infra-cameras, it has become much easier for researchers to track snow leopard activity in the Sichuan Qionglai mountains.
Professor Ran suggests that all the local staff and villagers stay as far away as possible from the sighting area so as to minimize any negative impacts on the snow leopard cubs.