It’s a hot, sunny day here in Novosibirsk today. Oleg and I are still in shopping and preparation mode and we are already looking forward to leaving this urban jungle (see picture) for the golden mountains of Altai! Anectodal news from the field is that snow leopards have been spotted on both Chikacheva and Talduair ridges earlier this year. Since Chikacheva is one of our traget areas, this is great news. Chikacheva is inaccessible and hard work for everyone (including us and poachers), which I guess is why snow leopards still cling on there!
Whilst I was fiddling with equipment in the hotel car park the day before yesterday, I was approached by two men in suits, asking me what I was doing. I don’t think they liked what they saw. Maps, binoculars, laptop, GPS units, short wave radios. I must admit it did look a little suspicious. They then radioed someone and before I knew what was happening, I had two large German shepards sniffing around. I had to open up the Land Rovers and storage boxes for them and when they were done, I was rudely told to pack up and produce all my documents. Luckily the hotel manager showed up and explained to me that the Russian PM is coming shortly to have a lunch in the hotel, hence the increased security. Dmitriy Medvedev then arrived ten minutes later and his entourage stayed for most of the day, preventing me doing anything at all. Russia 1 : Biosphere 0.
On that theme, all of Russia went nuts yesterday after beating the Czech Republich in their first EURO 2012 match. Celebrations lasted for most of the night. Being Czech originally myself, I kept a very low profile telling everyone I am from Australia, which is where I live now 😉
Oleg and I have done a lot of shopping and I have discovered completely new parts of Novosibirsk, further to East, city fringes dotted with megastores and supermarkets. Oleg insisted we had lunch in IKEA, which was a bit odd, but it seemed that’s what everyone else was doing. The store itself was empty, but the restaurant was literally besieged by hungry locals.
Jenny is boarding a plane later today and has uploaded two presentations that she will give at base camp for you to swat up on before you arrive (see www.slideshare.net/BiosphereExpeditions/snow-leopard-background and www.slideshare.net/BiosphereExpeditions/snow-leopard-datasheets). There’s also a slideshow with pictures of past Altai expeditions on https://biosphereexpeditions.wordpress.com/ to get you in the mood.
Update from our snow leopard conservation expedition to the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia