August 30, 2007
Triggered by body heat, a remote camera recently captured this image of the elusive Chinese mountain cat at about 12,300 feet (3,750 meters) on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in China's Sichuan Province.
A total of eight images of the feline represent the first time the mountain cat has been photographed in the wild, said Jim Sanderson, a cat specialist with the Wildlife Conservation Network who led the team that snapped the rare shots. A paper about the cat will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Science.
Sanderson is hoping that the new images will reveal some of the secretive habits that have kept the creature a mystery to scientists for nearly a century.
"Pandas go for a million [U.S.] dollars a year to rent and are very well protected by Chinese law, but there is virtually no protection for this cat," he told National Geographic News.
"There's no interest in its conservation because it's poorly known, but now perhaps this will change."
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Photograph courtesy Jim Sanderson, Yin Yufeng, Drubgyal, and Ahcu