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Falling in love with “IRBIS, The Snow Leopard”

Cover of ‘Irbis, the Snow Leopard’ – the book by Oleg and Irina Loginov from Kazakhstan.

Today Darla Hillard, Education Director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy shares a review of the new book “Irbis, the Snow Leopard” by Oleg and Irina Loginov from Kazakhstan. Darla is the author of the amazing “Vanishing Tracks – four years among the Snow Leopards of Nepal”, the remarkable story of her and Rodney Jackson’s years of ground breaking snow leopard research.

Here Darla writes about Irina and Oleg’s book.

I met Oleg Loginov in summer 2011. We both were in Gorno-Altaisk, capital of Siberia’s Altai Republic, to attend the town’s first Snow Leopard Day festival. We were very impressed by the children from rural villages, who sang and danced on a stage in the town center. Each performance was a tribute to the beautiful endangered snow leopard, calling for conservation action, to ensure that Siberia’s “Silver Wonder” continues to roam the magnificent Altai-Sayan Mountains. What a great occasion, then, on which to receive a copy of IRBIS, The Snow Leopard, the book that Oleg and his wife, Irina, produced under the UNDP/GEF Biodiversity Conservation Program!

The beautiful mountains of Kazakhstan are snow leopard habitat where the Kazakhstan Snow Leopard Fund works to protect the endangered cats.

IRBIS is a gorgeous hardbound volume. At 8.5”x11” (21.5x28cm), the pages are large enough for stunning photos and paintings of snow leopards and the landscapes in which they live. Oleg knows snow leopards.  He worked with them at the Almaty Zoo, and he and Irina founded the nonprofit Snow Leopard Fund to educate the general public and leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) about Kazakhstan’s snow leopards. In addition, Oleg wrote the Conservation Strategy of the Snow Leopard in Kazakhstan, which was officially approved in August, 2011.

One of the many beautiful photos of snow leopards in the book.

In the chapter on the various groups working to protect snow leopards, Oleg presents a set of recommendations for actions that should be taken in the CIS countries.  I believe that the tourist, or other reader unfamiliar with the issues—a target group for this book—will appreciate this information, and knowing that positive steps can be taken.

The text for IRBIS was originally written in Russian, and the English translation isn’t perfect. But in my opinion the passion that Oleg and Irina pour into this volume far outweighs any errors.

A lovely children’s fairy tale by Irina, Spirits of the Sacred Mountain, is based on the indigenous Altai people’s worldview of the snow leopard.

Oleg chose photos that capture beautifully the spirit and force of these elusive big cats. He points out that most snow leopards are born under the sign of Taurus, since the females give birth between late April and early June. One trait of Taureans is a calm and predictable nature.  Oleg tells of Renat Minibayev, who went in January 2010 to visit his beekeeper friend in the mountains of Dzhungarsky on the boarder of China and Kazakhstan. Minibayev went on a ski walk to a nearby canyon; there he had an amazing encounter with a snow leopard. He took thirty photos, some from a distance of 1.5 meters. He said that over the time he and the cat watched each other, he fell in love.

That’s what Oleg and Irina hope for this book—that people will fall in love with snow leopards and join the fight to save them.

IRBIS, The Snow Leopard is available for a donation of $300 in support of the Snow Leopard Fund’s programs. Orders can be made by emailing the authors at irbisslc@yandex.kz.  Tax deductible donations (in the US)  earmarked for the book can be made via the Snow Leopard Conservancy, who will forward 100% of donations to the Snow Leopard Fund in Kazakhstan.


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