Snow Leopards: Tracking the Endangered Cats

ABC's Dan Harris traveled to Darjeeling, India, to see the mystical creatures up close.
3:00 | 06/04/13

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Transcript for Snow Leopards: Tracking the Endangered Cats
If you want to see a snow leopard you could visit the zoo in San Francisco or Philly or Saint Louis. But if you want messier still leopard in the wild you should probably quit your job moved to the Gobi Desert and spend the next twenty years prepared to wait. He most elusive -- on the planet is also among the rarest but. ABC's Dan Harris got a rare treat to pursue one of these magnificent creatures with a man determined to keep them from disappearing. Altogether. It's the middle of the night -- And these men had in their -- of one of the most elusive animals on the -- and mrs. snow leopard. Who has dedicated his life. To saving this Nolan. Their almost. Mystical that's why I think so many people call them ghost of the mountains. McCartney gave Nightline rare access as he and his team tried to track down a specific -- named as tax. He's a nine year old male who seems to have -- jest as many lives it's definitely a very dominant male. He's got a -- scored up Wednesday most of them some fighting this. Hunt is playing out in mind -- is Gobi Desert. A half million miles a punishing extreme it's forty below zero in winter more than a 120. Degrees in summer. Here at least be endangered snow leopard is still king. Fewer than 4000 are thought to be left in the wild but two dozen are living here in the -- McCarthy and his research team have managed to drab has -- seven times. -- fitting the big cat. Their radio -- so that once we put this on the cat every three to five hours it will pinpoint exactly where that cat is on the ground. We look for footprints. It will tell them how far the cats -- whether they associate with one another and most importantly. How they raise their young such learning -- -- leverage this way is not without controversy. Tick collar they cats they have -- elaborate traps snares that loop around the -- leg. And trapped them until -- team arrived. Five yards a shot at the cat would chemicals that could feel humid in a matter -- They put the -- sleep only temporarily the cancer than wade and hollered before slowly coming back. We always sure was a way that we could give. All of the information that we need for conservation without ever having to -- but in reality there's no other way. On the strip Tom and his team have to -- new traps to catch as -- again and very soon incorporated callers are designed to fall off after eighteen months and as -- Will lose his any day now. We've got thirteen stares out there today. And they've managed to avoid him for over a week I think that just gives you a little indication -- the. -- -- A few thousand surviving snow leopards are that in some of the most remote places on her nineteen. Pakistan -- camera crew managed begin this rare footage and other snow leopard chasing a nun goes down a steep Clinton. No leverage rarely miss when they attacked but this time -- no -- life. In India I got a very rare opportunity to get close to one of these cats during feeding time. -- -- -- -- -- -- Thanks -- you on animals in the wild. And this is -- -- a beautiful animals that are seen. We watched as it is being graceful cat tax it's on -- peace -- Besides you can cut him -- Saint -- thrilling things. You're not scared to do that. -- he knows you via. Interactive and their close. Back in Mongolian Gobi Desert the team has finally pinpointed as -- mean spirited he's. About 650 meters just around that corner. And what we wanna do is go up into that little -- in the hill there. Then they discover why he's here as I has brought down an ibex wild -- three times his size. You might be right Reynolds corners of Cuban despite big cats stealthy ability to kill there's not a single known case of a snow leopard attacking a human. But that has not stopped humans from killing them. Snow leopard share these mountains with poor nomadic herding people whose life is tied to their livestock so -- snow -- come in and take one. There herders of course want to retaliate. So conservationists had to get creative coming up with a program to pay villagers not to kill the cats. Now their homemade crafts are sold in American zoos. This woman made the equivalent of 400 US dollars last year a small fortune for anybody living here. Advancing villagers not to -- snow -- is the easy part. Look at that catching one is a much different challenge. -- -- lucky cat or not lucky today it really shows you how elusive they are in with everything we know about him with all the technology. That we have here that we know exactly where they're -- day today you cannot predict when you're gonna walk by a certain spot. But a few nights later this has ties -- finally runs out. But. Charged with him to -- but only temporarily the team had just minutes -- collect blood samples and do other tech. -- -- -- The radio collar and is replaced and now it is time to bring as tied back to. Flew. Within minutes the big cat will be tracked in the wild evening valuable information -- the researchers. The information that could one day save him. And his species for Nightline this is Dan Harris in they're dealing India.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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