Snow Leopard – beyond the myth

Nisar Malik

Nisar Malik

The ABC ran this beautiful program last night, our second snow leopard program on Melbourne TV in a week! It tracks the filming of a female snow leopard and her cub by Nisar Malik, a Pakistani journalist along with cameraman Mark Smith. They spent 18 months and two extreme winters getting footage of the cat hunting, resting, playing.

Malik was one of the team who got the first ever videos of wild snow leopards in 2004 for David Attenborough’s Planet Earth – The Mountains episode. He was so bewitched by the animal at the time he felt he had to go back and make a full length documentary about it and its habitat in the wilds of the Hindu Kush, the remote mountains where Pakistan meets Afghanistan.

After the first winter when the two men filmed the female and her cub they return later in summer after the devastating earthquake in Pakistan only to search for 8 weeks in vain. The only thing of interest they see are marmots, the small rodents snow leopards love to feast on.

Mark Smith films them from a hide but after two weeks he says wearily “I hate marmots” and hope they deafen each other with their vicious shrieks. Having spent many hours myself counting marmots in freezing weather, on my own, with nothing more than a chocolate bar to keep me sane, I know exactly how he feels.

Radio collared female. BBC film by Nisar Malik.

Radio collared female. BBC film by Nisar Malik.

Anyway Malik and Smith return again the next winter and meet their female cat again, only to discover she’s been radio collared. Malik is shocked (and I must say I was too when we see how its done). But, listening to the Snow Leopard Trust’s Tom McCarthy explain and see the cat doing her normal hunting and other behaviours we understand that she’s OK. We all know it’s important to get information about the cats in the wild in order to protect them longterm and this is really the only way.

Nisar’s photo gallery of this trip here.

Here is a small piece of the documentary from YouTube.

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6 Responses to Snow Leopard – beyond the myth

  1. Meg says:

    Nisar Malik – what a man! His documentary “Snow Leopard – beyond the myth” showed the emotional depth of the man, his passion for his country and the beautiful yet elusive Snow Leopard. I felt I was actually there with his team watching over the tagged female leopard, anxious to know if she could still hunt effectively.
    Mark Smith’s photography was brillant.
    Anyone who views this documentary can clearly understand the cats endangered existance.

  2. Glenn says:

    Fantastic documentary. Although I had seen some of the footage before, it was great to see that Nisar Malik is so passionate in the conservation of the Snow Leopard.
    Although I thought the collar used was somewhat of an overkill for research purposes, it was very pleasing to see that it didn’t take anything away from the snow leopard’s hunting skills.
    Mark Smith behind the camera, just a brilliant job of photography. Very envious being that photography is my hobby.
    An all round wonderful insight into the existence of Snow Leopards.

  3. Sibylle says:

    Looks like we all reacted the same way to the collar and I’m wondering, that footage was taken in 2007, perhaps now two years on the collars may be smaller with technology advances.
    BTW, I’ll put this is a post, but that particular cat, called Bayad by the team that collared her reported the collar fell off about a year ago, so she probably only had it for 6-9ths.

  4. scott orbon says:

    Great Job…

    Nasir, we appreciate your willingness to share your story with us!
    If your in Dallas, Tx – We will take you out to dinner

    • Nisar Malik says:

      Hello Scott … my brother lives in Houston .. so next time when I am over I will take you up on your offer! 🙂
      Thank you all for enjoying the program … we truly enjoyed the project (understatement) which actually took 5 years from start to broadcast!
      Our leopard is now without the collar and was spotted a few weeks ago!
      Very best Nisar.

  5. Hi Nisar

    How can I get hold of Mark Smith in relation to a NatGeo series we are currently in re-production with?

    cheers
    Verity

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