February 28, 2009
Pretty cold. The mountains of Mustang behind us.
Seeing Som’s photo made me remember my last trek in Nepal in lower Mustang. It was a family and friends trek, eight of us, aged from 15 to 54! We didn’t see any snow leopards but had a great time despite sore muscles and some intergenerational challenges. The younger ones wanted to start each day at 11 am instead of 8 am – I could see their point, they nearly ran up the mountains…while we oldies slogged and slogged. But we were in Maoist territory – together we would go!
February 28, 2009
My friend Som Ale, who I met on the Earthwatch Snow Leopard Conservation project in the late 1990’s recently sent me this beautiful pic. It was taken by a camera trap donated by the “Snow Leopard Conservancy”. Madhu Chettri and Ram B. Gurung of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project are the two local staff who were responsible for the photo which was taken in Mustang, western Nepal. They were supported by the Conservancy’s Chhimi Gurung.
Som’s been doing significant biodiversity project work to support snow leopard conservation, much of it with Rodney Jackson from the Snow Leopard Conservancy. The photo is truly beautiful. The snow leopard is walking towards us, calmly, and above him/her a magnificent sky and small flapping Buddhist prayer flags. Well done to the local team that got this shot.
Mustang, Nepal. Camera trap photo. Madhu Chettri / Ram B. Gurung
We know snow leopards love high altitudes and remote areas. It doesn’t get more remote than this – the Mustang region in Nepal, where a small but strong community of Buddhists still live life in the same pattern of their ancestors hundreds of years ago. Houses of stone and mud, subsistence farming with corn and goats. The winters here are icy and bitter.
Som is continuing his snow leopard research with work in the Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal. Both of these areas are stunning and have been visited by many trekkers over the last 30 years. I would like to think that snow leopard numbers here are increasing and that trekkers and locals can help that.