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Similar to luxury cars, villas and overseas assets, a Tibetan mastiff was once seen a status symbol for China's nouveau riche. [Photo by Liu Junfeng/China Daily]
Even though the snow leopard in the Sanjiangyuan region, an area of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai province, is at the top of food chain, it is now being challenged by the Tibetan mastiff.
Ironically, the dogs are abandoned homegrown mastiffs, and the snow leopards usually give up their prey after being confronted by the dogs.
Such scenes were rare in the past, but with the number of abandoned mastiffs surging between 2012 and 2014, and snow leopard numbers declining as a result human activities, poaching and climate change, these kinds of encounters are now fairly common.
Lion-like mastiffs, native to the Tibet autonomous region and neighboring Qinghai province, were traditionally trained as sheep dogs and watchdogs by herders.