February 10, 2010

Orjan, with cute animal -not snow leopard! -back on the Snow Leopard Trust's Mongolia project. Photo from SLT Blog.

Orjan is a Swedish PhD student working at the base camp of the Snow Leopard Trust’s long-term research project in Mongolia. Last year he blogged about his work capturing, collaring and collecting valuable data from five of the wild cats.

The last few months he’s been away from the project but is now back for another six months of work adventures. Follow him as he blogs about snow leopards, Mongolia, the people, the culture, the freezing climate …and Chinese police dogs….on the Snow Leopard Trust’s Blog .

Christmas? have a look at lovely gift ideas from snow leopard country

November 18, 2009
Oruktam slippers from Snow Leopard Trust shop.

Very cute and comfy Oruktam slippers from Snow Leopard Trust shop. These and more beautiful items makes lovely Christmas presents.

It’s that time of year again and I’d like to remind you all that the Snow Leopard Trust shop has a wonderful collection of crafts made by people in Mongolia through the Snow Leopard Enterprise program.  I mention this at least a few times a year so bear with me if you know about it already:-)

This is so worthwhile…you get a lovely gift, either for yourself or to give a loved one, the people who made the item get financial support and the snow leopards that live in the remote mountains are supported by the villagers and the herding communities…talk about the old win/win!

As for me, I’ve got my eye on these gorgeous Oruktan slippers – aren’t they cute? Check out the SLT Shop here.

November 1, 2009
Tracking snow leopards in Mongolia. Map from Snow Leopard Trust blog.

Tracking snow leopards in Mongolia. The different colors represent the different snow leopards. Map from Snow Leopard Trust blog.

The Snow Leopard Trust’s Mongolia project is going full steam ahead and the team is getting heaps of data on the cats they are watching – check out the blog for the movements of Saikhan, Shonkhor, Aztai, Itgel and Tsagaan in the Gobi desert and the Tost and Toson Bumba Mountains of Mongolia. Isn’t technology wonderful? Just to think we can watch where these cats are moving across remote and mountainous region – fantastic. Not only that, but by seeing a cat stay in one place for a few days the researchers know the animal has made a kill and is eating.

Check the SLT blog for regular exciting updates. Learn more detail about all the cats that have been radio collared on the blog About the Cats Page.

Mongolian recipe to celebrate snow leopard blog birthday

October 31, 2009
Bayara. Photo from Panthera website.

Bayara. Photo from Panthera website.

 Here’s the next recipe to celebrate the snow leopard blog’s first birthday. I’m covering a recipe from each of the 12 snow leopard range countries. I haven’t been to Mongolia so I recently asked Bayarjargal (Bayara) Agvaantseren the Executive Director and founder of the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation (SLCF) in Mongolia for a suggested recipe. I’ve wanted to blog about Bayara anyway as she recently won the $25,000 Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for the Next Generation in Wild Cat Conservation. The prize goes to “a special individual who has already made a significant contribution to conserving wild cats.” 

SLE rug from mongolia. Photo by Sibylle.

SLE rug from Mongolia. Photo by Sibylle.

I’m a big fan of Bayara’s as she is the one who started the community-based conservation program now known as Snow Leopard Enterprises (SLE) in Mongolia. SLE supports the semi-nomadic herders in Mongolia, helping them increase their income through handicraft production in exchange for their tolerance of snow leopards. I’ve blogged about the beautiful crafts these people make before and indeed have a number of their rugs hanging on my study wall. They are sold here through the Snow Leopard Trust website. I’ll give another plug – they make wonderful Christmas presents and it’s definitely that time of year to to think about presents. 

Bayara began her career in snow leopard conservation as a member with Tom McCarthy’s (from the Snow Leopard Trust) snow leopard research team. She worked as a translator with herders and helps to understand human-snow leopard conflicts. She’s also been key in formulating Mongolia’s National Snow Leopard Policy and most recently played a key role in initiating the first ever long-term ecological study of snow leopards in South Gobi, Mongolia. 

See more about the prize on the Panthera website.

Mongolian steamed Buuz. Photo from Mongolfood website.

Mongolian steamed Buuz. Photo from Mongolfood website.

Bayara’s recipe is for Buuz – which is dough filled with traditionally lamb in Mongolia, but can be filled with chicken, beef or vegetables and then steamed. While I haven’t ever made them with lamb (not one of my favourites I must say) I have made them with chicken – absolutely delicious. The secret is all in the steaming method and making sure they don’t stick to the steamer which for some reason mine do all the time. Bayara suggests this recipe here.

 I’ve created a page for all the Snow Leopard blog birthday recipes together – see it here.

“Saving the Ghost of the mountain” – book by Sy Montgomery

September 23, 2009
Saving the ghost of the mountain by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop

"Saving the ghost of the mountain" by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop

I have to share with you  my latest find – this gorgeous book by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop – “Saving the Ghost of the Mountain – an expedition among snow leopards in Mongolia” -just published. It’s aimed at young readers but an absolute must read for adults interested in this rare cat too.

Sy and Nic spent time in Mongolia with Tom McCarthy, Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust and his local team who are working on a ten year study of the cat in this region.

Sy scrambling through extreme terrain in Mongolia. Photo Nic Bishop.

Sy scrambling through extreme terrain in Mongolia. Photo Nic Bishop.

As well as the story of this snow leopard conservation project, the book covers the history of the region with stories about Genghis Khan who ruled here hundreds of years ago. We learn about local customs of the nomadic herders, other local wildlife like the desert hedgehog and the story of dinosaur finds in the Gobi desert made by adventurers in the 1920’s and 1930’s. There are stunning photographs by Nic throughout.

Like my own snow leopard conservation journey in northern India (Ladakh) ten years ago, Sy and Nic didn’t see any of the rare and illusive cats. Along with Tom (who Sy calls the Professor of Poop), they do however find lots of scat (also known as snow leopard poop). For me those many years ago finding poop was so exciting, at least we knew the cats were there even if we didn’t see them!

I’ve been in email contact with Sy and she’s shared her thrilling account of the Mongolia trip searching for snow leopards for the book here.

Get this book  from Amazon here.

Apple Mac OS X helps snow leopard conservation

September 20, 2009
Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Apple Mac  OS X Snow Leopard sweeps the world!

OS X users visiting this blog will be interested to learn why the snow leopard in the wild is a unique and endangered animal. (Find out why.)

We hope that Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard users who care about nature take time to learn about the real wild snow leopard and support one of the several conservation groups working to save this cat from extinction in the wild.

Get your RSS feed now by clicking in the box on the right.

Saving this flagship species will help save many other species sharing its habitat in some of the world’s most remote regions.

“This is a boon for wild snow leopards,” says Brad Rutherford, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust, “Apple is helping to show the world the beauty and majesty of this rare creature.”

And the good news keeps coming with many Apple retailers in the US and other countries making donations and supporting the Snow Leopard Trust (Seattle) in different ways. Apparently hundreds of retailers will be involved. Well done Apple retailers!!  More info on how Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard is helping the Trust here.

Raising our glasses to snow leopards

July 23, 2009
Snow Leopard Vodka

Snow Leopard Vodka

Amazing how many different ways there are to help in the conservation of our beautiful wild snow leopards. Here’s another one. Glasgow whisky maker, Whyte and Mackay has committed to a conservation partnership to support the Snow Leopard Trust by donating 15% from profits of sales of their new Snow Leopard vodka.

The money will support a couple of projects in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia both of which  help educate local communities on their region’s fragile ecosystems. The aim of the community education is to inform children and adult villagers on how to protect the snow leopard as well as teaching new enterprises to enable them to earn more income.

You can help

May 14, 2009
Mongolia Conservation Project. SLT Photo

Mongolia Conservation Project. Snow Leopard Trust Photo

Many of the conservation programs I’ve discussed on this Blog wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the folks at the Snow Leopard Trust.

You can turn your love for these beautiful cats into action today! Right now, your donation to the Snow Leopard Trust can have a big impact. Five donors, including the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, will match every donation dollar one-for-one, up to $40,000.  Please help protect snow leopards and donate today. Here.

Snow Leopard – beyond the myth

May 11, 2009
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.

Snow Leopard pic wins Wildlife Photographer 2008 award

November 1, 2008

A picture of an elusive snow leopard has won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 award! The 44 year competition, is run by BBC Wildlife magazine and London’s Natural History Museum. Steve Winter spent 12 months with 14 trip cameras recording snow leopard photographs to get his beautiful shot in the wild.

Steve Winter / Snow Leopard Trust web site

Steve Winter / Snow Leopard Trust web site

The BBC news web site announces Steve Winter as the winner of the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award.