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हिम तेंदुओं की रक्षा करना बना जीवन का हिस्सा

MEET THE HERO OF HEMIS NATIONAL PARK: KHENRAB PHUNTSOG

Dawn was just breaking into Ladakh’s Chilling village and Tundup Tsomo, 65, walked to the corral to feed her sheep and goats like she did every day. But on this morning there was an eerie silence. Convinced something was amiss, she laid down the bundles of grass and hurried to investigate. Her worst fears were confirmed: all the 25 sheep and goats lay dead, their necks snapped from their bodies, and in their midst was a snow leopard feasting calmly on one of its prey. Tsomo did not panic. She told her son Tsewang Rigzen to call the Wildlife Protection Department in Leh. “We wanted them to come and rescue the snow leopard and return it safely to its habitat,” said Rigzen. When Khenrab Phuntsog and Smalna Tsering, forest guards at Ladakh’s Hemis National Park arrived, Rigzen helped in the rescue. But Tsomo, Rigzen, and residents of Chilling have not always been so large-hearted about the predator in their midst. In the past livestock losses have led to retaliatory attacks on the snow leopard.