Trouble in paradise

The mixed blessings of new roads and increasing tourist numbers for Himalayan communities.

# Interview 1

There are bigger problems than snow leopard conservation. The…[park]…is being ruined by roads and pollution – tourism is the main livelihood and…[the park authority]…does nothing. Soon nobody will come to trek except the Israelis who want everything for free. Continue reading

Seven days in Little Tibet

A blow-by-blow account of a week spent in the restricted NarPhu valley searching for snow leopards and their calling cards.

Day 1

Start: Koto 2600m

Finish: Mehta 3560m

Net altitude gain: 960m

Journey time: 8 hours 45 minutes

Armed to the teeth with permits, we were let into the valley by the police without any problems.  Immediately a different world: no tourists, no road, hardly any litter.  The river gorge we followed was incredible – 1,000m/3,300ft rock walls towering over us on both sides, the sky a sliver of light far above.  Sore neck from continually gaping upwards.  Below the narrow path a sharp fall to certain death in the ferocious Naar khola (river).  Exhausting walk.  Out like a light. 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

Flying solo

On a wing and a prayer to the land of the snow leopard.  Buckle your seatbelts.

Finally, it was time to head into the field.  Several days of playing musical-chairs-cum-twiddle-my-thumbs-cum-sit-on-my-behind round various Government offices had paid off.  On Monday afternoon I got my research permit.  Happy days.

Continue reading

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