The voices of those who matter

Maurice shares the stories, concerns and anecdotes of those who live side by side with the snow leopard.


“I have opinions of my own – strong opinions – but I don’t always agree with them.”
― George H.W. Bush

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a story. Everyone has doubts. This makes all men equal. Even if the opinions are wrong, the stories rubbish and the doubts unnecessary. Men will still be equal in this regard. Some more equal than others but that is another story.

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Oh deer, what can the matter be?

Jonny writes about the snow leopard’s preferred prey in Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park.

Snow leopards are big cats.  Weighing between 35kg/77lbs and 55kg/121lbs, and with an active lifestyle in a cold environment, they need to eat a lot of food to keep them going and keep them warm.  Like all large felines, they tend to catch a big prey animal – like a wild sheep or goat – every couple of days if it’s available, and will often stay near the kill until it’s finished.  A snow leopard killing three sheep-sized animals every two weeks could therefore get through around 75 in a year.  That’s a lot of lamb chops. Continue reading

The Killing Fields of the Himalaya

Maurice recounts the worrying level of predation by snow leopards in SNP 

We look at each other and shake our heads.

It is an outrageous claim…but what if its true? That would be worrying to say the least.

Rinzin and I are sat in the home of the Chairman of the Buffer Zone User Group Committee. He nods, as if to back up his statement. Continue reading

Modern Day Monks

Maurice describes our encounter with the monks of Tengboche and the impact of Buddhism on Snow Leopard conservation

Sonam Sherpa sits opposite me. He’s 29 years old, has alert eyes, wears a red trekking jacket, nike shoes and Columbia brand trekking socks. He fingers a cell phone absentmindedly. He is what you would describe as a modern day monk. Continue reading

In search of the mystery cat…

Maurice discusses the fun in trying to find something that does not want to be found or simply does not exist…

Rinzin: ‘It can only be the Leopard Cat, the Marbled Cat doesn’t live at this altitude!’

We were hot on the trail. Accompanied by a National Park Officer from the Deboche Post (who is worth mentioning is single handedly responsible for monitoring any illegal activities in an area the size of a small country– and he has to do it on foot in what can only be inadequately described as an undulating landscape) we headed uphill from the settlement of Deboche at 3800m. Light was already fading. We hurried. Continue reading

Homeward bound

Another long walk for Jonny and a new chapter for the rest of the team.

My two weeks in the field setting up the research project were over.  Due to family commitments, it was time to head home.  So far, we’d conducted 15 interviews and almost 150 household surveys.  We were well on our way to achieving our goal of 26 interviews and 260 questionnaires in the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park – 25% of all the households in the area. Continue reading

Yak yeti yak

Close encounters of the feline kind.  Some readers may find some of the photos in this blog distressing.

On Wednesday 19th we left Thame for Namche Bazaar.  After a stopover there to refuel on chocolate cake and apple pie in the heavenly Namche Bakery, we set out the next day for our new destinations.  Khunde and Khumjung are 330m/1,000ft m above Namche Bazzar at around 3,730m/12,300ft.  We’d heard that there’d been some recent livestock losses there so we were keen to check them out. Continue reading

Life in the freezer

Our second blog from the Nangpa valley describes what a bunch of snow leopard researchers get up to in their spare time.  Silly nonsense, mostly.

All work and no play make Jonny & Co. a dull bunch.  Having time-off is therefore an important part of our schedule, and we take every Sunday as a rest-day.  Most evenings, though, the four of us can be found reading books and playing Uno, all the while sitting as close to the communal stove as we can get without going up in flames.

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The Snow Leopard Bank Ltd.

What does a microfinance scheme have to do with snow leopard conservation?  Quite a lot actually, as the first of two blogs from the Nangpa valley explains.

On Friday 14th we left Namche Bazaar for the Nangpa valley, the western part of Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park.  This area is well away from the busy tourist trail to Everest Base Camp, and is quieter, less well-off and more dependent on agriculture and livestock.  This valley was also were Tsering, one of our research assistants was from.  As a local, he had spent a week with us making valuable introductions to contacts in the area, but now left due to prior commitments back in Kathmandu. Continue reading

The Bizarre Bazaar

The team get stuck into data collection in our first village. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Namche Bazaar has now been the team’s home for most of a week.  It’s a funny wee place: around 200 households sculpted into a horseshoe-shaped valley with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.  It’s also a tourist hotspot and the numerous hotels stacked on top of each other, with their blue and green roofs and window-sashes, give it a gaudy Alpine-ski-resort feel. Continue reading

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