Sunday, 29 October 2017

ARTICLE: Cat on the roof of the world

Lightmatter snowleopard.jpgPausing to draw in another lungful of thin, biting air, I take in the dramatic, aching beauty of the Shamshy Wildlife Sanctuary in the small Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan. Scree- and snow-covered ridges arc upward in every direction, birthing the river Shamshy, sparkling and racing through the vast valleys. After a short trek, the accompanying rangers and I ‘chatted’ over a meal of lepunshka and compot — so ubiquitous they could well be the national bread and drink of Kyrgyzstan. Conversation is stilted, but language barriers melt when chief ranger Japarov Emil shows images captured in camera traps placed in the reserve: Eagle, hare, pikka, buzzard, a herd of ibex careening down a slope, and... snow leopard! Voice high-pitched with excitement, Emil gesticulates that he saw one last month, casually strolling across his path.


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