Usually by this time of the summer we’re already getting started with our expedition here in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. In fact, mid-June is my favourite time to be up in our study area as the wildflowers are in full bloom and the mountains are at their most beautiful. More importantly for our research though, the number of shepherds is minimal, which increases the potential of seeing our study animals. This year though is obviously very different. It is increasingly challenging to create plans too far in the future, and as such, we were not sure that the lockdown in Kyrgyzstan would be lifted by this time of the summer. So instead, our community expedition will be taking place at the end of July for a total of eight days with the main goal of camera trapping and extending our community-based conservation work. Without our international citizen scientists, there won’t be much time for us to do the normal surveys that are a big part of the project year after year.
Both the people and the data they collect will be sorely missed! It makes you realise the importance of people from around the world coming to join us each year, working hard towards the goal of snow leopard conservation. It will be a very different expedition without them.