Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Snowena's Cameraman

Most of my story “Snowena” is narrated by the cameraman. He’s a wildlife photographer and filmmaker who knows that he’s privileged to be able to travel the world watching these stunning animals in their natural habitat just simply being snow leopards.

Filming wildlife is a combination of the most boring, difficult and most exciting jobs. Exciting because getting a perfect shot either of a successful hunt or simply a snow leopard sunbathing, creates a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Difficult, because animals aren’t actors following a script and stage direction and no two days are the same. A hunting animal follows the prey and the prey doesn’t follow the same route that nearly got it killed yesterday so setting up cameras to follow that route won’t work. As well as being able to follow the snow leopard with a camera as it sprints towards a makhor, a filmmaker needs experience to know which route the prey and hunter are likely to take and be able to anticipate the next move so the camera shot is moving in the same direction as the animal.

Boring, because much wildlife photography and filming is about waiting and watching. Tracking animals in the wild takes patience. The snow leopard that was near a village a month ago may have moved on. Although snow leopards are territorial, they don’t necessary stick to the same routes or patterns of movement around their territory. Snow leopards move up and down mountains following prey who follow the grazing, which is good higher up the mountains in summer months and better nearer the lower lying lands in winter. Factor in wind direction and which side of the mountain offers more shelter and it takes observation and instinct to find your snow leopard.

Then you have to wait. Snow leopards aren’t generally bothered by the presence of people but are wary so it might take a couple of months for the snow leopard to become used to a filmmaker simply being there. Days will be spent simply perched behind a camera waiting for the opportunity to take some useable film. Days will turn into months as you watch and get a feel for the snow leopard’s patterns of behaviour. Snow leopards will hunt day or night, although mostly at dawn and dusk, and will store food for a day or two in the ready-made freezer of snow capped mountains. Snow leopards tend to hunt only what they need to eat and not store food for more than a few days. A medium-sized prey animal will keep a snow leopard fed for a couple of days but if the snow leopard makes its next hunt during the night and you have to wait for daylight, you may have to wait up to a week before the opportunity to film a hunt for the one you missed.

It’s not just about observing the animals. Snow leopards, like all cats, sleep a lot (lions can spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping). So there’s an opportunity to observe the snow leopard’s habitat as well. Leopards’ territories often do overlap or include villages. Although generally, if precautions are taken and there are sufficient prey animals, snow leopards don’t hunt domestic animals. Most villagers shut their domestic animals in caves or huts on the mountainside and protect them with thorned bushes woven to make a fence. Snow leopards are not naturally inclined to eat people, preferring the more succulent meat of grazing animals. They are nosy though so will explore villagers and clusters of dwellings, usually at night when there is less movement.

Ironically this cameraman decides he couldn’t do what the villagers do: herd animals all day. Although essentially, the jobs are similar: follow and watch animals. The key difference is that the herdsmen are absolutely reliance on their animals remaining healthy and breeding although they too have to be able to observe the animals’ behaviour and how to react if one or more are showing signs of distress. The cameraman simply observes and records. Although for the cameraman it can be hard not to get involved, particularly if an animal becomes injured or hasn’t made a successful hunt for a couple of days. But the cameraman can’t intervene. A snow leopard must hunt for its food and cannot become reliant on provided food otherwise it will lose hunting skills it needs to survive.

1 comment:

  1. Great post- really interesting. I love reading these posts- let's hope more people comment!

    Great job!