Tracking Elusive Snow Leopard in Afghanistan

One big cat wrangler is on a dangerous mission to capture the rare animal.
3:00 | 12/05/12

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Transcript for Tracking Elusive Snow Leopard in Afghanistan
Well if you think hunting down a rare ferocious leopard is dangerous consider. Having to do it inside an actual war zone that's exactly what one -- -- is doing to help keep the species alive. ABC's TJ Winick brings us this daring into the wide out. In the world's most dangerous place -- Smith is on a mission this -- -- bigger risk. Does it justify the potentially -- -- the judge Jack. Not just any cast the world's most elusive big catch this snow leopard of Afghanistan. This was my holy Grail for. -- I wanted to catch. Smith a fourth generation big cats trapper from Idaho yeah. Has been challenged by the wildlife conservation society and USA ID to capture and -- -- a snow leopard in just when he days. They're borderline mystical legendary if you can't look at the snow leopard and appreciated for what it is and -- the terrain environment survives and and you're missing something. They are highly endangered predators targeted by poachers for their pelts -- killed by farmers for attacking their livestock. There are now believed to be between 10200. And Afghanistan. So finding one is not an easy task especially in a war torn country. -- roving packs of Taliban fighters are always a threat. So this will be the value up here and welcome to the -- -- -- from a mountainous border region northeastern Afghanistan. This is snow leopard country. Among those on -- experienced team. Trucker who's seen all -- and Philip trapper John good rich -- -- the game of odds we're trying to predict the exact spotted cat would put his foot. To catch their big -- they must set a series of snares. And now in camouflage our snare -- and the pit. Then there's the transmitter which will alert the team -- and animals -- in the snare. Once it is set all the -- to do is wait. There's a -- signal. People people people people people. It. It's the middle of the night when the team gets the signal they've been waiting for him. Just six hours after setting the -- -- Can you see guys. You see -- OK so. Wanna go very very slow -- -- OK we're not in -- -- Wanna be safe we want to make sure it's okay. It's exciting. It's exciting Baghdad -- we gotta be cool we gotta be cool since. This is the moment of truth is that a fox or couldn't -- the elusive snow leopard. Reforms snow leopard so it's just don't happen. Chronicle and its informal yeah -- They were not there yet we're not there yet he were not there yet we gotta get started first. Beautiful once the -- has hit with a tranquilizer dart it's a race against time. His team has one hour to complete a full -- -- -- would -- the satellite color. Which will fall off after thirteen months of collecting valuable data. The opportunity to study one of these creatures there's just so extraordinary hit every measurement every observation and its precious seven -- But then retreat to a safe distance as the big -- regains consciousness. -- a little wobbly as he wakes up. He retains his footing just thought we feel a responsibility for an animal we -- We've taken some liberties with it obviously we're justify not because of what we're gonna gain back. The big picture conservation over the next few days data pours in from the satellite -- By tracking the leopards movements wildlife experts have already been able to protect the farm animals big -- often. -- until one of the things we've been able to do with the -- excellent for some have already is to notify villagers. When stalkers are approaching villages that they could get their livestock -- and protect. With just 2000 snow -- believed to be -- the planet. The -- own survival is just as big a priority and in a country were 80% of its inhabitants live off the land. Understanding the snow leopard means understanding this volatile ecosystem. -- one of the keys to rebuilding Afghanistan. For Nightline I'm TJ Winick. In New York. Accord -- big -- week begins this Sunday December ninth. With snow leopards of Afghanistan on Nat geo -- --

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

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