Pictures showing a rare snow leopard stumbling across a camera and ‘posing for selfies’ have been revealed.
British wildlife photographer and conservationist Terry Townshend set up the camera in a remote area of north-west China’s high mountains, not expecting the remarkable snaps.
The full sequence of three photographs shows the curious big cat approaching the camera to investigate the object that was placed in its habitat 16,000 feet (4,900 metres) up on the Tibetan Plateau.
Pictures showing a rare snow leopard stumbling across a camera in north-west China’s high mountains and ‘posing for selfies’ have been revealed on Tuesday
The big cat, sporting a grey-white spotted fur, was prowling a track through the Tibetan Plateau when it had spotted the camera and posed perfectly for a close-up
Townshend, the 48-year-old founder of Birding Beijing, captured the images six weeks ago while working in Qinghai province in an area known as the Valley of the Cats.
He wrote on Birding Beijing’s Twitter account on Tuesday: ‘I placed a camera trap high up on the mountains. Yesterday I retrieved it. Look what I found.’
The big cat, sporting a grey-white spotted fur, was prowling a track through the mountains when it had spotted the camera and posed perfectly for a close-up.
It then gets even closer to the lens, which captured two more incredible shots of one of the world’s rarest and most mysterious big cats.
‘I am overwhelmed with joy,’ Townshend told MailOnline. ‘I never thought I could get a picture of a snow leopard looking straight into the camera like this.’
Photographer Terry Townshend captured the images six weeks ago while working in Qinghai province in an area known as the Valley of the Cats. He did not expect to capture the wild cat
British wildlife photographer Terry Townshend said he was overjoyed by the remarkable snaps
There are only 4,000 snow leopards in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature
Known as ‘ghosts of the mountains’ in some parts of the world, the snow leopard have evolved to live in some of the harshest conditions across countries such as Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia.
Their population has been dropping as they face increasing threats including habitat loss, climate change, poaching and illegal trading.
The snow leopard is a Class-A protected animal in China, while the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as ‘vulnerable’.
There are as few as 4,000 snow leopards in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Early this month, the Chinese government has pledged to boost the protection of snow leopards and their habitats by increasing funds and establishing nature reserves.