Dina Mishev writes How a lifelong obsession with snow leopards led me to northern India:
It is an afternoon toward the end of our stay at the lodge that Namgail spots snow leopards: a mom and two cubs, maybe even the ones of which Norboo and I saw the tracks.
We spent days driving up and down the valley searching for different vantage points — and Namgail finds the family while scanning from a flat spot a two-minute walk from the lodge’s front entrance.
The snow leopards are, by far, the most difficult animals of the entire trip for me to make out. Stanzin calls me to a scope he positioned so the family is in the middle of its field of view. He tells me that the mother is lying on the top of a rock on the ridgeline and the cubs running and jumping below her.
Through the scope I scan the visible section of ridgeline, but see no snow leopards. The rest of the group has found the cats, but minutes pass and I still see only the same empty, hostile landscape I’ve seen the last two weeks.
And then something flies off one of the ridge’s serrations. A second something follows. The cubs have leapt off the top of a 25-foot-tall rock.