Thursday, 1 April 2010

Sichuan update

Hello All.

I have a brief moment of connectivity and thought a bit of blogging would be my best use of time. Hmm... ok.

We've been working in Baoxing Nature Reserve, to the west of the more famous Wolong Biosphere Reserve. Both are panda hang-outs (red and giant, both of which were surprisingly good at hiding), and the latter was where our Sichuan Forestry Administration team managed to get photos of snow leopards (see example picture). Baoxing is connected to Wolong by a high altitude dendritic ridge, with steep sided valleys all around. Our interests are to see if snow leopards are dispersing along these ridges, and assessing the prey temptations that may motivate them. This part of the world is hugely bio-diverse, by nature of its topography, and so we are also keen to examine the relationships between snow leopards and the other predators that may influence their movements. Common leopard are found within the wooded slopes below the high-altitude grasslands, and bears and wolves wander around most habitats.

We have just come down from the higher areas of Baoxing, having set camera traps along the altitudinal gradient, which also constitutes in a habitat gradient. We have managed to enlist the cooperation of local Tibetan herders, who will maintain the cameras in situ while we head further west into the plateau (weather depending). The Tibetan people in this area have been fabulous and haven't missed an opportunity to invite us into their houses and ply us with baijiu, as is their custom. Having been working at altitude the sudden influx of booze made sure we all slept heavily last night.

The weather has been a minor issue, with heavy snowfall making transport difficult. Our horses in Baoxing braved all, but we did not want to put upon them too much. Nor our local support team for that matter. Despite some awful conditions, we made good progress and look forward to seeing some photo-fruits from our endeavours.

Much love,

1 comment:

  1. Wooow - it really looks like the real thing, and very tough as well! Success to both of you, and the whole team of course