A camera-trap in Qinghai province, China, has captured extremely rare footage of three snow leopards together.
In the video, two snow leopards are initially seen, lying directly in front of the camera-trap.
They are shortly joined by a third big cat, and the film shows them rolling, stretching and cuddling during an afternoon nap.
Watch the footage of these three snow leopards:
The camera-trap footage was taken outside the Zhaxilawu monastery by Liu Mingyu, a student at Peking University, who is studying the impact of free-ranging dogs on snow leopards and their ecosystems.
In a blog post for National Geographic, he said: “It’s possible the three snow leopards here are siblings, or the one who is furthest from the camera may be the mother of the other two.”
Snow leopards are found in 12 countries in Central Asia and China is thought to be home to at least 60 per cent of the total population.
They typically live at high altitudes in mountain ranges such as the Himalayas.
“Their persistence in these treacherous, remote regions means we know less about snow leopards than any of the other big cats,” said Dr Byron Weckworth, Panthera’s China program director.
“However, in the past several decades this has begun to change, and as we begin to better understand their ecology and natural history, we also better understand the threats to this Endangered species.”
Snow leopards are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (last assessed 2017), and are notoriously elusive animals, sometimes called 'ghosts of the mountains' by local people.