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Get a Image of a Wild Himalayan Snow Leopard


Within the autumn of 1973, wilderness author and naturalist Peter Matthiessen joined preeminent area biologist George Schaller excessive in Nepal’s Himalayan Mountains, on a journey that might quickly grow to be legendary. Whereas Schaller was there to check the mating habits of the bharal, or Himalayan blue sheep, Matthieseen was on a quest of religious enlightenment. That’s, a quest coupled with the hope of glimpsing one of many area’s most elusive animals: the snow leopard. This strenuous two-month expedition resulted in one in all Matthiessen’s greatest recognized and award-winning books, The Snow Leopard, a piece that also enlightens and evokes readers at this time. 

It’s no secret that massive cats stir imaginations, from the majestic lions of Kenya’s Maasai Mara to the jaguar, a big and noticed feline that holds courtroom over South America’s Amazon jungle. Snow leopards aren’t any exception. For a protracted interval, so little was recognized about these shy and solitary creatures that inhabit earth’s uppermost reaches that they’ve since taken on an virtually legendary standing. Native residents name them the “grey ghost” or the “ghost of the mountains,” as a result of they’re so not often seen. The truth is, when Matthiessen launched into his expedition, solely two Westerners had reported seeing a snow leopard over the earlier 25 years. A type of Westerners was Schaller, who was additionally the primary to seize a snow leopard on movie. In 1971, his photographs appeared within the pages of Nationwide Geographic, giving the world its first alternative to view this fabled being in its pure habitat. 

Himalayan Snow Leopard on the hunt.

The Elusive Snow Leopard

Getting a photograph of a wild snow leopard is not any straightforward activity, though it’s been made a lot simpler in recent times—with the assistance of spotters and grasp trackers who know each precisely the place to look and what to search for, similar to recent scat, snow-embedded tracks, and even marking patterns. Since Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard was first printed in 1978, so much has been realized about these shy and solitary creatures. They will attain as much as seven-feet in size and weigh anyplace from 60 to 120 kilos, and so they roam principally at daybreak within the pre-morning hours, then once more within the afternoons and evenings. As a consequence of a distinction of their anatomical construction, snow leopards can’t really roar, although they do chuff, purr, and growl. They transfer about quietly, preferring steep, snow-covered mountain-sides excessive above the treelines, in locations the place the air is skinny and the climate typically relentless, and their thick layer of fur—coloured whitish to grey with black spots and rosettes alongside the neck, head, and again—simply camouflages them with the panorama, making them extraordinarily troublesome for the common eye to see.

Himalayan Snow Leopard laying down in the forest.

The place to See Snow Leopards within the Wild 

In line with the Snow Leopard Belief, a non-profit group devoted to defending the snow leopard, there are believed to be between 3,900 and 6,400 wild snow leopards left all over the world, although the precise quantity stays unknown. They inhabit a big swath of alpine and subalpine terrain that traverses 12 nations in northern and central Asia, together with Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. Schaller captured his now-famous photographs in Pakistan’s Chitral Valley—one other place snow leopards are recognized to frequent—and dozens of them roam freely in Russia’s Altai Mountains, on the convergence of China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, among the finest locations for recognizing them is in India’s Ladakh territory, a part of the bigger Himalayan mountain vary, the place roughly 200 or so reside. 

Pair of snow leopards with clear rocky background, Hemis National Park, Kashmir, India. Wildlife scene from Asia. Detail portrait of beautiful big cats Panthera uncia.

India’s Ladakh Area Awaits 

For the proper alternative to each to discover this storied area and search out the uncommon snow leopard, embark on Nat Hab’s personal images journey, the 12-day Snow Leopard Quest: A Photograph Professional Expedition. Tucked away within the distant Himalayas of northern India, Ladakh itself is framed by dramatic peaks and dotted with Buddha-filled monasteries, meditation caves, and secluded villages. It’s a area closely influenced by Tibetan tradition and is dwelling to India’s largest nationwide park, Hemis Nationwide Park, the place you’ll discover one of many highest inhabitants densities of snow leopards in a protected space on the planet. Nat Hab’s small group measurement of seven and a versatile day by day schedule gives individuals one of the best probability of catching a snow leopard undisturbed—maybe having descended to a decrease altitudes to feed on bharal, ibex, and smaller marmots and hares that inhabit the perimeters of steep rock partitions and graze alongside valley streams, or one perched inconspicuously alongside a excessive ridge line—so be certain and preserve your digital camera on the prepared. 

wild Himalayan Snow Leopard on the hunt in the snow.

Getting a Good {Photograph} 

The chances of capturing snow leopard pics improve when you immerse your self within the territory of those magnificent creatures, and are assisted by assistance from Nat Hab’s adept recognizing scouts and grasp trackers, who work tirelessly to observe the cats’ each transfer. The terrain could also be rugged and troublesome, however the rewards of seeing a snow leopard within the wild are excellent. When you’re particularly fortunate, you may even spot a snow leopard cub (or two!). 

Ladakh’s extra wildlife, together with long-legged wild sheep generally known as urial, golden eagles and bearded vultures that soar overhead, and the versatile Himalayan wolf, recognized for its wooly fur and talent to adapt to chilly and excessive altitudes, is as equally as unimaginable. There are additionally the pure and cultural beauties of Ladakh itself, similar to slender valleys and colourful roadside prayer flags, winding rivers and unoccupied palaces, all that are ripe for discovery…and for photographing. 

Whereas Matthiessen by no means did spot a snow leopard throughout his personal 1973 expedition, seeing one wasn’t his sole function. As a 2018 New Yorker article factors out, “If Matthiessen had merely needed to set eyes on a snow leopard, he might have pushed from his dwelling on Lengthy Island to the Bronx Zoo, the place snow leopards have been bred in captivity since 1966.” Matthiessen knew that the potential of glimpsing a snow leopard in its pure habitat, slightly than in a zoo or menagerie, could be one thing else solely. Nevertheless, even not seeing one could be an incredible feat, particularly while you’ve scoured the world’s tallest peaks and loftiest landscapes in your quest. That’s as a result of it’s within the ‘searching for,’ Matthiessen realized, that the actual magic happens.

In regards to the writer: Laura Kiniry View all posts by

Laura Kiniry is an award-winning journalist specializing in nature, journey, and the outside. When she’s not out traversing Norway’s southern fjords or monitoring elephants on foot in Ghana, you will discover her at dwelling in San Francisco, writing about her adventures and rediscovering her personal yard.

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