Rodney Jackson hikes high into the Himalayas to help snow leopards
Rodney Jackson and his team take 20 to 30 yaks, each loaded with 250 to 300 pounds of gear, into the Himalayas to study snow leopards, which take the word 'elusive' to an extreme.
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This is one of the biggest changes in conservation over the past decade or so, Crowther says. Instead of conservationists acting as cops to keep people out of an animal's territory, more, like Jackson, are trying to find solutions that will improve the lives of the people living there, as well as protect the animals.Skip to next paragraph
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"When you save environments for wildlife, you tend to sustain those environments for people, too," Crowther says. "It's a very holistic approach."
"He's looked long and hard at the kind of subsistence economy of people living in those situations and tried to come up with schemes that will appeal to their sensitivities and tastes and needs," says Chris Wemmer, scientist emeritus at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.
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Snow leopard pelts are prized on the black market, Dr. Wemmer explains.
"[The people are] poor, and this is money walking on four paws. That's what you're up against," Wemmer says. "It takes a great deal of sensitivity and understanding to work without becoming jaded or cynical. The games people play can become pretty demoralizing."
Jackson's ability to operate on a shoestring, as well as the "sparing kind of existence" he and Hillard live even when not in the field, sets them apart, Wemmer says. "Everything he gets goes into the conservation of snow leopards. That's a bit unusual. That degree of devotion is not commonly seen."
• To learn more about the work of Rodney Jackson, visit http://snowleopardconservancy.org.
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