Home » Snow leopards in India

Snow leopards in India

The cold mountain landscape of Kibber, Ladakh is straight out of a high fantasy novel. Tall snow covered treacherous mountains surround you on all sides.The winter temperatures reach extreme lows; going as low as -25 degree celsius or even lower. The landscape and weather tests the limits of the human body. How could life survive in such harsh conditions?

One would be forgiven to think that this habitat is devoid of wildlife. At first glance it may even appear so. But if you look carefully the fresh snow will have a line of footprints, and a red fox ambling past looking for a meal. When you gaze skywards a shadow may cross your eyesight, a Golden Eagle or a Bearded Vulture would be circling on thermals in the air.

Winter here is more than just cold and hardship, it offers the rare chance to see one of the most sought after wildlife sightings in the world — a snow leopard sighting. The below freezing cold brings down wildlife such as blue sheep (a favourite prey of the snow leopard) from the higher reaches of the mountain and following it comes the snow leopard. Mid-february onwards is the beginning of the snow leopard’s mating season. There are chances of sighting a courting or even a mating pair of leopards.

Winter here is more than just cold and hardship, it offers the rare chance to see one of the most sought after wildlife sightings in the world — a snow leopard sighting. The below freezing cold brings down wildlife such as blue sheep (a favourite prey of the snow leopard) from the higher reaches of the mountain and following it comes the snow leopard. Mid-february onwards is the beginning of the snow leopard’s mating season. There are chances of sighting a courting or even a mating pair of leopards.

However snow leopard sightings are sought not just because they are rare, but also because they are difficult. One needs to be extremely knowledgeable of this landscape, know-how of leopard movement and have the knack to be at the right place at the right time. Our team of expert naturalists and trackers consists of locals who know the landscape intimately. Their sharp eyesight, sense of the landscape, reading of snow leopard signs brings a high chance of sighting a shaan — snow leopard in local language — that are much more possible and enjoyable.

Sometimes the leopards look like tiny specks on the mountainside, merging seamlessly with the rocky landscape. At such times extreme gear (we use 800 mm. Canon Prime lens with R5 body. A RRS Tripod with a FlexShooter is necessary for steady camera shots) is used to take such sharp shots of leopards mating or even hunting ibex in the high mountains!

A traditional ladakhi saying is, “The land is so barren and the passes so high that only our fiercest enemies or our best friends would want to visit us.” Suffice to say the locals will treat you as prime guests, welcoming you like long lost best friends. The homestays have heated rooms and toilets, making the stay warm and welcoming. Living with the hosts gives a wonderful glimpse into Ladakhi culture and cuisine. You can also whet your appetite for history and traditional architecture with the ingeniously constructed monasteries in this region. One can only marvel at the robust Ladakhi culture, their cheery disposition and resourceful nature in the face of tough conditions. A visit to this part of the world will certainly give you some “shaan”-daar experiences!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.