Rare snow leopard sighting in West China offers mixed message

Video of a family of snow leopards feasting on livestock was captured for the first time on China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

While the footage provides hope that efforts to conserve snow leopard populations in the area are paying off, experts say the video is also evidence of increasing human encroachment on their habitat.

The hours of video, taken overnight between March 11 and 12, show a mother and two cubs eating a yak that had belonged to a local shepherd.

Chinese Felid Conservation Alliance (CFCA), a Beijing-based NGO, obtained the footage shortly after their infrared camera trap was set.

China is home to 60 percent of the world's snow leopard population (maximum estimates at 8,745 as of 2016).

Last year, snow leopards saw their status lifted from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

However, the fight to protect the species is ongoing, and according to experts, the video points to a threatening trend.

"Now with more shepherds settling down and more livestock grazing freely, frictions between human and snow leopards will be difficult to improve," said CFCA employee Huang Qiaowen.