So its all over! Thank you everyone, it has certainly been an adventure. I have been in the Altai a month now, our expedition scientist, Jenny, has returned to Germany and I have had the rather large task of packing up and putting the expedition to bed for a year. I have stored the camp equipment and the Land Rovers and tomorrow I fly home to England.
The final slot ended on Saturday with some sad goodbyes and after giving Novosibirsk a taste of our disco dancing! Still, it was an early night after such a mammoth drive.
Friday morning we set off from base camp and stopped quickly to have a look at the new snow leopard museum set up by the Snow Leopard Conservancy, WWF and other local parties. We dropped off two team members, Alice and Lucy, to help further with the set up of the museum. The rest of us carried on to Kamlak and the pleasure/pain ritual of a Siberian banya!
I spent Thursday packing up camp, the others went out to local yurts and interviewed locals about their attitudes towards the snow leopard, the environment and the encroachment of the outside world on their way of life. Hannes and Martin braved one of the close-by ridges. Wind and rain, however, called them back before lunch. I like the spirit though guys! Jenny got back last night from her meeting with leaders in the Altai snow leopard research in Kosh Agash and was called back again to talk more about the role of Biosphere Expeditions’ research. Hopefully in the future more collaboration in this area of research can further benefit this fragile region.
I’ll let Jenny add an addendum to this diary in due course with a summary of the research, camera trap pictures taken, etc. We end on a high though, as news is coming through of a camera trap picture of a snow leopard on our very “own” Chicachova ridge, taken by Sergey Spitsyn of Arkhar NGO and one of the very people whom Jenny saw in Kosh Agach. This camera trap picture and a short video of our windy and sunny work is now on WordPress.
Thank you so much everyone for helping us with snow leopard research in the Altai. We could not do this without you and we can all feel proud of what we’ve achieved. It’s a long hard slog, as we all know, but we have taken another step thanks to you all.