The ABC’s Eric Campbell has trekked through the high altitude Hemis National Park. (Publisher’s note – this is the area where I watched a wild snow leopard for 8 hours in 2011 while trekking with the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust.) Eric has made a program for Foreign Correspondent to be screened on Tuesday 5th May, 2009 at 8pm on ABC.
This part of northern India is now being called “snow leopard heaven” because of the conservation programs supporting the cats, their prey species and the local villagers living there. The work being done here could be a template for saving big cats around the world. It’s a dramatic and remote landscape where people still largely survive off subsistence agriculture, as they have for centuries. There are no roads, and virtually no mod cons. Many villagers have just a few hours of solar power each day, and use animal dung to heat their homes and cook.
Campbell meets local farmers who are being trained to use remote control cameras to track the leopards. They’re also given assistance to construct predator proof pens for their livestock. Women can now earn money by providing food and accommodation for trekkers. And the farmers are educating school children about biodiversity.
Attitudes have changed, and snow leopards are now valued and protected.
There is also an interview with film maker Mitchell Kelly who was the first person to film snow leopards hunting and mating in the wild. (See Video clip from Mitchell’s film “Silent Roar” on the Video page of this Blog).