Video: Snow leopards explore hidden camera

(WWF International/YouTube)
(WWF International/YouTube)

A video filmed in Nepal's Himalayan Mountains and released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows a snow leopard and her cubs examining a hidden camera, providing an up-close view of the endangered animal.

In the footage the adult snow leopard can be seen yawning before staring straight down the barrel of the camera, stalking forwards to inspect the mysterious device in her territory.

Snow leopards are notoriously hard to study due to their elusive nature and the difficult terrain of their mountainous habitats, so the fund's footage provides an intimate glimpse of the rare animal dubbed the "ghost of the mountains".

In the last 16 years the snow leopard population has dwindled, with illegal poaching and habitat loss seeing more than a fifth of the population vanish.

Now it's estimated only 4000 of the animals remain.

The stunning video was released as Swiss-based WWF published a report on the effect climate change is having on the snow leopard population, its sole habitat of icy central Asian mountains melting and farmers moving in to plant crops as the tree line moves higher.

Poachers also threaten the species' survival. The illegal trade of snow leopard parts continues to thrive, their bones and other body parts believed to hold medicinal powers while they are skinned for their patterned fur.

Head of the fund's global snow leopard conservation initiative Rishi Kumar Sharma says urgent action is needed to curb climate change and help save the endangered animal.

"Otherwise the 'ghost of the mountains' could vanish."

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