In simple terms, I could call myself a snow leopard person. A year ago, I embarked on a six week snow leopard conservation project in Siberia that I initiated myself. I scaled steep, snowy scree slopes in the biting wind for the chance to stand for a moment by a shallow snow leopard scrape and drink in the views on the edge of Mongolia. It was an unforgettable experience to live in snow leopard country and listen to the locals speak of them and of their own lives, and I’ll do my best to relay some of those stories at some point if there is interest. I’ve given a good number of lectures on snow leopard conservation in my area and have spent years pouring over journal articles, following current research projects and developing personal relationships with those in the snow leopard conservation community. In other words, if you have snow leopard questions or just want to talk about them, ask and I’m quite sure I won’t be able to stop talking. I fervently look forward to the next time that I can heed the siren call back to central Asia…back to snow leopard country.
I experience the “shifts” and “phantom limbs”, so-to-speak, of those who feel deeply bonded with a species, though it’s at times exasperating to me to feel like I’m parroting back the same words I hear on forums. However, I’ve long felt more comfortable behind the pale grey-green eyes of a snow leopard and the physical features perpetually flow, ebb and mingle with my own. In short, my bond is with the reality of the flesh-and-blood animal; the snow leopard as it is, to the extent we’ll ever understand them.
My experiences and perception of reality don’t stop at being a snow leopard person, though that can be wordy to explain, so I’ll refrain from doing so here. In my mind I experience forms, animals and elements of the natural world from a variety of perspectives almost constantly, so the content of my stories will range far beyond only snow leopards. Essentially, snow leopards represent my strongest bond with a species on an emotional level, but in a more general sense any other natural form is something my mind lives to explore, with a focus more on the physicality aspects.
A few tidbits about me, to get a sense for the person behind this blurb: I’m a recent college graduate with a degree in geology (and almost in biology as well in all but name). My partner and I just moved into a new place and for the time being I’m dabbling in some things, teaching a fencing class, and exploring the idea of freelance travel writing on the side while I go through the process of researching grad school options. I’m a bit of a dabbler by nature, especially when it comes to all things science so I don’t know what might catch my interest next. I recently worked for a paleontology lab and some environmental remediation projects and before that an immunology lab and a planetary science lab (got to work with date from the Phoenix mission!). I hope to head in the direction of environmental conservation, perhaps with some travel writing on the side, but really, anything that allows travel, excessive outdoor time and the ability to work on snow leopard conservation projects at least as a hobby…that’s all I need.
I’ll close with random stuff I guess. I’ve fenced on the national level for most of my life and I also love sailing, skiing and windsurfing dearly. I also have adorable pet rats, nothing makes me happier than the fall/ early winter season, my boyfriend and I have big plans to someday construct our own part-treehouse, off-grid (as much as possible) home and we semi-seriously want pet emus someday. We have a wonderful habit of trekking off to barely-planned nowhere and setting up camp for the weekend, preferably during the winter. Snow camping! I will try any food at least once, including the horse sausage, barely cooked pig entrails and Mongolian yak cheese I consumed more than once in Russia. My rock/mineral/fossil collection is growing faster than I can manage. I’m very serious in my goal of hiking the Annapurna circuit and also visiting Hemis National Park, among other travel goals in the region. I dream of long-term “useful project” travel, as opposed to being a tourist for two weeks in a place. I…can’t stand chocolate but ginger is my one true food weakness.
That’s enough for an introduction I think. I love to talk when I find the time, and I tend to write in bursts, so posts are likely to be relatively infrequent, but lengthy. Hello again!
PS. I like to go by Ghost online, as tribute to the “ghosts of the mountain” as snow leopards are sometimes called. Their rarity is not romanticized mystery, as the name might imply, but rather in part a result of the challenges the species faces in the wild. The name is out of respect for them.