At the end of this month, I will head to India to lead two snow leopard expeditions in Hemis National Park, Ladakh, India. I am posting a follow-up to an article I wrote last year Snow Leopard Conservation With Camera Traps. I explain how camera traps, with new Microsoft facial recognition technology, is being used to non-invasively unlock the mysteries of one of the most elusive mammals on earth- also known as the mountain ghost. I also showed a video of setting up a game camera on a high ridge above our basecamp and left it there. My friends with the Jammu and Kasmir Wildlife Department checked the card and sent me the results. Here is a collection of the many cats which crossed the path, as well as a red fox, and some super cool Tibetan snow cocks!!!
Snow leopards were delisted from endangered to vulnerable by the IUCN in 2017, which has caused a lot of controversy. Many experts believe that this was due to poor science and a lack of data on snow leopard populations. It is thought that as few as 4000 snow leopards may exist in the wild. Camera trapping, which is supported by WWF, is an excellent way to get a better understanding of true population numbers, and target key habitats for conservation efforts. Snow leopards face increasing pressure from poaching, retribution killing from livestock depredation, mining, habitat loss, overgrazing by livestock which leads to lower wild prey numbers, and climate change.
Stay tuned for more tales from snow leopard country in the coming months. It is so exciting to help develop and support snow leopard conservation through responsible tourism. The model of conservation in Hemis National Park is working very well, and can now be used as a model for other areas of snow leopard habitat.