The love affair with the Tibetan Plateau continues. Here’s a short video covering some of the highlights of our most recent visit to the Yushu area with Mark Andrews, Rick Bateman, Brian Egan, Dale Forbes and Marie Louise. Once again we were fortunate to enjoy some stunning encounters with Snow Leopards and much much more, including Tibetan Wolf, multiple superb views of Tibetan Fox, Glover’s and Plateau Pikas, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Antelope, White-lipped Deer, Blue Sheep, Woolly Hare, Asian Badger (at 4400m!) as well as some special birds such as Bar-headed Goose, Black-necked Crane, Pinktail, White Eared Pheasant, Alashan, White-throated, Hodgson’s and White-winged Redstarts, Brown and Robin Accentors, Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Saker, White-winged Grosbeak, many snowfinches and rosefinches, Tibetan Bunting and Tibetan Babax, to name a few. Despite spending a lot of time in suitable habitat, we failed to find Pallas’s Cat, a species that is probably quite common in the area but difficult to see due to its primarily nocturnal habits. And we had a frustratingly brief encounter with a probable Chinese Mountain Cat. It’s a special place!
Although access to the area is restricted, and sensitive (the area is inside a national nature reserve and it is due to become one of China’s first national parks), small groups can be facilitated as long as the trip is arranged through the proper channels. Independent travel is not permitted and, to reinforce that, while we were there, a group of foreigners was ejected from the valley because they had not registered.
It was great to stay with one of the local families of yak herders and to see how the training, just a few weeks earlier, had influenced their thinking. It’s still very early days in terms of developing wildlife watching tourism in the area, and there are still many issues to address before these pilot trips can be scaled up, however there is no doubting the potential to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience whilst supporting the local people and raising funds for conservation and I’m excited to be working with the local government and ShanShui to make it happen.
If you are interested in visiting, please get in touch.
A huge thank you to the local government and to ShanShui Conservation Center (especially Zhao Xiang and Li Yuhan) for their invaluable help and support, without which our trip would not have been possible.
Finally, just for fun, this photo from the trip has been causing a stir on social media; a Snow Leopard stalking a magpie that’s a little too close to his kill.. can you spot it?