Two Uzbekistan snow leopards caught on camera have provided the first images of the endangered cats in that country.
Released jointly by conservation groups Panthera and the World Wildlife Fund, the photos confirm the existence of at least two individual snow leopards in the protected area in the Pamir Mountains, which can only be visited for scientific study.
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The WWF estimates fewer than 7,000 snow leopards remain in the wild, and Uzbekistan is one of 12 countries in Asia where they are found.
The camera trap, set up between November and December 2013 at the reserve, also captured images of bears, lynxes, ibexes, wild boars, and hares.
Snow leopards are "expert at navigating the steep and rocky alpine regions of Central Asia ... recognizable by [their] long tail and almost-white coat, spotted with large black rosettes," according to the World Wildlife Fund website
"Panthera has provided over 300 camera traps through partnerships such as this to better document the range of this elusive and endangered cat of central Asia's mountains," Tom McCarthy, executive director of Panthera's snow leopard program, said in a statement
. "With an improved understanding of their range and numbers we have a better chance to save them."
Earlier this month, another camera trap produced images of two snow leopard cubs playing in the Argut River Valley in eastern Russia, which demonstrated a potential repopulating of the species.
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