2021 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Ongoing Series finalist

Overheard: Searching for Himalaya’s Ghost Cats


About the Project

A camera trap catches the old male snow leopard on a mountain overlook-ing the Spiti Valley. Photographer Prasenjeet Yadav observed this cat for two years before its death in March, when it chased an ibex off a cliff. PHOTOGRAPH BY PRASENJEET YADAV

National Geographic’s editor at large Peter Gwin travels to the Himalaya to join photographer and National Geographic explorer Prasenjeet Yadav on his search for snow leopards, one of the planet’s most elusive animals in one of its most forbidding landscapes. Himalayan communities have long regarded the snow leopards as threats to their livelihoods, but conservation efforts and tourism are changing the way people see them. Gwin followed Yadav for several days in Kibber, a remote Indian village about 14,000 feet above sea level, to learn about the physical and mental challenges involved in tracking snow leopards. He also spoke with a resident of Kibber who helped build a livestock insurance program that was instrumental in reducing retaliatory killings of the big cats. Gwin then takes us to an icy, dangerous cliff where a crowd of tourists and photographers are staring down at a snow leopard feeding on a giant goat. Through these scenes, we understand the strong connection between these ghost cats and the people who live in the mountains, and see what lengths people will go through to capture these wondrous animals.