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 Surprising ally protecting snow leopards: Buddhist monks:

Qinghai Province, China — A greater proportion of snow leopards are being protected in regions around Buddhist monasteries than in the core nature reserve set aside for the big cats, a study has found.

The leopards are being protected by hundreds of Buddhist monasteries on the Tibetan plateau, new research suggests.

The scientists, who detailed their study last week in the journal Conservation Biology, found that half of the monasteries are within the snow leopards’ habitat and that monks patrol the wilderness to prevent poachers from killing the rare cats.

"Buddhism has as a basic tenet — the love, respect, and compassion for all living beings," said study co-author George Schaller, a biologist with the endangered cat conservation group Panthera, in a statement. "This report illuminates how science and the spiritual values of Tibetan Buddhism can combine their visions and wisdom to help protect China’s natural heritage."

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