Am currently in Australia catching up with family and friends, applying for grants and meeting with philanthropists to try and get this DNA detection device developed....the fundraising never stops!
I'm also working with the Pangje Foundation, Panthera, Project Himalaya and the Centre for Molecular Dynamics to develop a series of expeditions; combining tourism, research and social initiatives in north-western Nepal. The goal of these expeditions will be to create a biological and social corridor through this snow leopard hotspot in Nepal, for apex predators to survive. The first step in this plan will be to raise money to build corrals to protect livestock from snow leopards and other predators in some of these remote villages. Livestock is the livelihood of the people in this region, and without compensation from the government they are often forced to kill snow leopards in the area for their own survival. If we're able to help the people first, we can then offer environmental education initiatives on the importance of protecting apex predators, with the hope that they may become stewards for local wildlife.
The Pangje Foundation are already achieving this in Lower Mustang. They are currently supporting a local youth group in the small village of Thini near Jomsom that is developing sustainable eco tourism initiatives through conservation activities. With the Pangje crew they learn about the science of conservation (using snow leopards as the main educational vehicle) by helping set up camera traps. What's really great is, on their own accord, these kids have decided to develop eco tourism in ways that support a safe/healthy environment for the snow leopard - and hence all other species in the area. This is what we'd love to achieve in some of the more remote parts of Nepal.....and you can be a direct part of making this happen if you'd love to come along on one or more of these expeditions!!.....watch this space!!!
As sign that we're definitely heading in the right direction with this....you'll never believe what we've discovered!! Last year I went out with the team at the Centre for Molecular Dynamics to look for snow leopard hotspots around parts of Mustang and we discovered some big cat pug marks just outside of Thini that we thought were snow leopard. Brad Clements of Pangje, without knowing this sent me a message exclaiming that the local youth group had caught a snow leopard on camera trap in pretty much the exact same spot!! What an unbelievable and wonderful coincidence!
Am feeling excited and hopeful of what we're creating here with the help of you all. Am so grateful for all of your support!