Page last updated at 05:56 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

China herdsmen jailed for killing snow leopard

Snow leopards
There are only about 4,000 snow leopards left in the wild

Two herdsmen have been sentenced to eight and 10 years in prison for killing a snow leopard in northwest China's Xinjiang region.

China's state news agency Xinhua quoted local authorities saying the men had set a trap after wild animals had been preying on their sheep.

When a snow leopard was trapped, they stoned it to death and gave its fur, bones and internal organs to others.

It is estimated that there are just 4,000 snow leopards left in the wild.

The wildlife protection office of Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture confirmed that the animal they killed was a snow leopard, said Yang Jianwei, a publicity official of Manas County Committee of the Communist Party of China, where the men were convicted.

Xinhua reported that five suspects who had allegedly killed two snow leopards were arrested in January this year by the Public Security Bureau of Luntai County, Xinjiang.

Four people were sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing and selling four snow leopards on 19 November 2008.

Snow leopards live between 3,000 and 5,500 metres above sea level in the rocky mountains in central and south Asia.

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