It is sunny and warm in Bishkek. I arrived two days ago on a clear morning just after sunrise. From the plane approaching Bishkek airport from the north, I was had fantastic views over vast flat steppe stretching out all the way to the bottom of the snow-covered Kyrgyz Alatoo mountain range, rising south of the city. For now, having temperatures climbing up to 31 degrees mid-day, I’ve almost forgotten about down jackets and long-johns stashed away in my bag.
I’ve settled in at the NABU Kyrgyzstan office close to Bishkek centre, warmly welcomed by our partners on the ground. Over the last two days we’ve all been busy with gathering the expedition equipment, which has been stored in various locations. I’m still busy with updating inventories and writing shopping lists. NABU’s snow leopard patrol (Grupa Bars), a group of four staff I will introduce you to later in detail, has returned from a camera collection trip to the Ala Archa National Park on the northern side of the mountain range. 21 camera traps will now all be prepared to be set up again within our study area. The SD cards will be checked for results over the next couple of days.
I met with the Director of the local mountain rescue services yesterday to discuss emergency procedures and communication lines – all part of Biosphere Expeditions’ safety procedures. Quite a few local placement applicants have been invited for an interview, most of them to be held tomorrow. Offering placement opportunities for local students is part of Biosphere Expeditions’ capacity-building programme (see www.biosphere-expeditions.org/placements). Depending on how the interviews go, one or two local people will join the expedition teams in addition to the team list that has been sent out to everyone.
From our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan