Peregrine Bird Tours
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Peregrine Bird Tours

Snow Leopard Expedition and Birdwatching Tour

Snow Leopard Expedition and India Birdwatching Tour
When: Fri 21 Sep 2018 - Fri 5 Oct 2018
Leaders: Chris Doughty and Stanzin Gurmet
Snow Leopard Expedition and India Birdwatching Tour
Melbourne/Melbourne (15 Days) $6,672
Single Room Supplement $340
Ground Content (ex Leh) $4,857
F ew animals have captured our imagination like the Snow Leopard. This most elusive, of the big cats, occurs in one of the harshest environments on earth, in an area so remote and inaccessible, that they are hardly ever seen; and take on a supernatural quality; seemingly able to appear and vanish at will. Rare, shy and seldom seen, it is without doubt, one of the most beautiful and elusive animals on the planet. Snow Leopards are widely but thinly distributed throughout the mountainous regions of central Asia and in the winter months, they descend to as low as 1,800 metres, often venturing close to villages, where they take domestic livestock. The Snow Leopard shares these stark and snowy wastes with its main prey, Blue Sheep and the Tibetan Argali, a species of ibex. Although the Snow Leopard is ostensibly a protected species, the few thousand Snow Leopards that remain are still hunted, not only for their pelts but also for bones and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. This, together with depletion of its natural prey, habitat degradation and reprisal attacks by herdsmen for loss of livestock, means the Snow Leopard is facing a very uncertain future. On this unique expedition we will venture deep into Hemis National Park in Ladakh, which is renowned for its remote mountain scenery, picturesque villages and fascinating Buddhist monasteries. It is estimated that up to 100 Snow Leopards live within the park boundaries. Life here is harsh for humans and animals alike; but the development of community-based eco-tourism is now offering new employment opportunities for local people, which also greatly increases our chances of observing a Snow Leopard, as we will make use of expert local trackers who work for the Snow Leopard Conservancy, tracking and carrying out population counts on Snow Leopards. They will guide us to known haunts, recent kill sites and help us follow other signs of Snow Leopard activity. We also have a very good chance of observing other unusual and range restricted mammals such as Mountain Weasel, Himalayan Marmot, Woolly Hare, Large-eared Pika and Kiang. We will also find a good number of species of birds that are typical inhabitants of the trans-Himalayan desert region of Ladakh, which are uncommon or difficult to observe, elsewhere in the world. These include species such as Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Himalayan Snowcock, the stunning White-winged Redstart, Brandt's Mountain-Finch, Black-winged Snowfinch and Fire-fronted Serin. This expedition is sure to be one of the most amazing and adventurous trips you are ever likely to participate in, however, please be aware, that for much of the time, we will be camping out in the open, or staying with local families, in rather basic accommodation.

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