From our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/tienshan)

The amazingly good weather conditions keep going – not comparable to the time with slot 1. The snow is melting away quickly and causing high water levels in the rivers (which are now even more difficult to cross).

Simone, who had to stay back at camp for a day, spent her time patentiently observing the area with the spotting scope and was successful! She spottet several ibex on the ridge south of camp – well done.

Several other occasions are worth mentioning: several times this week Anders has surpassed his personal altitude record. On Saturday he climbed up to almost 3700 meters – the highest mountain in his home country of Sweden is just above 2200 meters. Julija was able to shoot a photo having an eagle sitting in the grass just two meters away from a baffled marmot – just incredible! And our Women-Power-Team (Jeannine, Natalie, Nancy, Julija) watched a badger family playing on a slope for quite a while.

On Sunday, our day off, the group visited a herder nearby and enjoyed great hospitality and a very rich lunch. Some even went short spin on a horse. In the afternoon the head of NABU Kyrgyzstan came to visit with a PR person and conducted some interviews for local media.

On Monday our ‘overnighters’ (Aman, John, Anne, Julija and Anders) left camp with the aim of setting several camera traps at the very far end of Sokuluk valley. Beautiful weather went with them, but unfortunately they came back with disappointing news: a herder has moved into the far end of the valley and because he is afraid of wolves taking his sheep he fires shots with his rifle into the air regularly. This explains why the team was not been able to find any new signs of ibex or other large animals. So no camera traps were installed.

On Tuesday a group made it up to a remote ridge in “our home valley” where Natalie spottet ibex last week. After a hard and long climb Volodya, Roger and Aude set four camera traps alongside this ridge, a “highway” of animals as it seems. And, not to forget the finding of this expedition yet: two clear prints of Pallas’s cat together with scat that is very likely from this cat also. The other cat, the snow leopard, is still elusive. Mountain ghost indeed.

So, up and downs, successes and failures – typical for research and conservation work.

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From our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan 

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