Stories from the Roof of the World
edited by Don Hunter
Collection of firsthand accounts about tracking and studying snow leopards in the highest regions of the world. Also a few pieces by locals who lived there- men protecting their livestock, stories of a snow leopard encounter told through generations. This book really gives a well-rounded look at what\’s involved in field work- the efforts of scientists and conservationists to find the animals and learn more about them, and the struggles of people who live near them in harsh conditions, to make a living. There\’s even a story of a misunderstanding with a poacher, who just wanted to earn money for his family, and another of how an organization set up an incentive program- locals were paid for making crafts to sell, on condition they never kill a snow leopard (sounds like it was very effective so far). The voices are very different- some describe the grueling marches and chilling cold, only to find tracks, never see the animal itself. Others describe the beauty of the landscape, the spiritual connection they feel to the secretive cat, or some personal incident in their lives that made them want to travel to remote regions in hopes of seeing one. George Schaller, Peter Matthiessen, Tom McCarthy (and his son), Rodney Jackson and many more writers are included. It was interesting to hear from two sides of some accounts- the scientist and the assistant each writing a piece. Very striking in my mind was an account of some scientists trailing a snow leopard across a glacier. Every place where the leopard (as noted by its pugmarks) had paused and leaped across an area, they took measurements and found a crevasse was hidden beneath the snow. I really enjoyed another by a photographer who observed a snow leopard on a kill interacting with other animals (magpies, fox) that came hoping to scavenge. Oh, and I love the cover image, by one of my favorite wildlife artists, Robert Bateman.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 188 pages, 2012