16/02/2012 09:54 GMT

Snow Leopard: Rare Big Cat Caught On Film In Bhutan (VIDEO)

Hidden cameras set up in one of Bhutan's national parks have caught the rare snow leopard on camera as it pads around the parkland marking its territory.

The elusive big cat is among the estimated 7,000 left in the wild. Because they are so shy, it is difficult to know the exact populations of the animal.

Snow leopards live in mountainous regions, camouflaging themselves in the cold rugged terrain. in 12 countries, including Afghanistan, China, India, Mongolia and Nepal.

The long thick tail visible in the footage curls around the snow leopard's body to keep it warm as it sleeps. It is also important for balance as it stalks its prey among the craggy rocks.

Their thick unusually patterned pelt once made snow leopards highly prized commodities for fur traders. However the big cats are now classed as an endangered species.