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Tibetan Monks Protect Endangered Snow Leopard

Buddhist monks who reside in monasteries have helped protect snow leopards by keeping poachers at bay.

A recent study published in the journal Conservation Biology, which analyzed the endangered snow leopard population in China’s Quinhai Province from 2009 to 2011, found that Buddhist monks who reside in monasteries in the Sanjiangyuan region are playing a vital roll in protecting the feline species from poachers. According to the research, more than 90 percent of all the monasteries were either located in or within three miles of the snow leopards’ habitats, and through perpetuating cultural traditions, societal education, and routine patrols, the snow leopards were safer near the monasteries than on reservations. “Buddhism has as a basic tenet—the love, respect, and compassion for all living beings,” said study co-author George Schaller. “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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