KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel has been collaborating with the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust (SLC IT) for a number of years on its winter and summer tracking trips to Hemis National Park in the stunning region of Ladakh in the northern Indian Himalayas.
The KarmaQuest trips have had a fabulous record of team members seeing the snow leopard in the wild due to the experience and skills of snow leopard tracker extraordinaire, Jigmet Dadul. I went on this trek in winter 2011 and after 7 days of tracking a pugmarks in the snow we finally found a beautiful female cat we watched for 8 hours as she slept and rested on a rocky outcrop. During the February / March 2012 trek the group had four cat sightings, one for three hours and this was an outstanding success.
Another group, during the 2008 season trip were able to observe a snow leopard on a kill for more than an hour.
The treks are often accompanied by Dr Rodney Jackson, founder and director of the SLC who was nominated for the 2010 and 2012 Indianapolis Prize for endangered species conservation. Rodney was the first snow leopard researcher to capture and collar snow leopards for radio tracking in the early 1980’s. This project gave the world a huge amount of first time information on this elusive animal living in remote and often inaccessible areas. Rodney’s work has been written about by his partner, Darla Hillard in her book “Vanishing Tracks”.
Another highlight of this trip is the ancient Buddhist culture of Ladakh and staying with local people in homestay accommodation at the tiny village of Rumbak where farmers and herders are working with the SLC to develop community-based conservation and ecotourism programs to help protect the snow leopard and its prey species, as well as their natural habitats.
A tax deductible part (in the US) of trip costs goes to SLC-India Trust’s work towards supporting communities in this area committing to not harming rare wildlife in exchange for receiving training in setting up homestays and in nature guiding. This training has supported the innate knowledge and hospitality of the people into income-generating livelihoods through ecotourism. Read more about how the SLC set up the community-based ecotourism program in this part of India on their website here.
This trip thas now proven itself to be the best chance to see a snow leopard in the wild. KarmaQuest, the SLC IT and the villagers of the Hemis region have done fantastic work to protect the cats in this spectacular part of the Himalayas. For current KarmaQuest snow leopard trek dates and itineraries see their website.