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Conservation insights – Ladakh

Ladakh : Sky high…

Meeting Nisa, Pankaj and Mr. Tachi – all working from WWF-India’s office in Leh, the capital of Ladakh – is one of our best memories from our trip (see our photos in 2007 or 2003).  Thanks to their advice we explored some part of the Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands during a 5-days trek that took us on a traditional nomadic trail from the Tsomoriri Lake (4600m) to the Tsokar Lake (4485m). These two high priority wetlands not only have a cultural and religious significance, but they are also the home of several rare endemic species as well as the only known breeding grounds for the endangered Black-necked crane. On a global scale these landscapes also play a vital role in the water dynamics in the Himalayas as they act as a “buffer” between glacial melt waters and downstream rivers and flows.

Leh and the Indus valley, Ladakh

But those sites are vulnerable: the pervasion of human activities (tourism, infrastructure construction, pollution etc) and the looming threat of climate change could harm them. So, even in the most remote places, conservation is taking place, day by day, at a scale that seems insignificant but that eventually matters. Yes, this is about local projects, with local people. Or at least that’s where it starts. By looking at the small WWF hut in the fields – that also serves as a training and educational center – we realize that it could not be any other ways. Conservation takes time and it is an ant’s work. But seeing this village developing it’s own registered “homestays”, protecting wildlife and developing sustainable practices with tourists seems to indicate that they are on the right track for keeping these places as alive as they should in order to sustain the fragile global equilibrium that makes this region one of the most spectacular we have ever visited.

Nature leaves a mark on you, don’t leave one behind ! Even with our sole rubber soles we could harm this vulnerable place… So, the Green Hiker Campaign launched in 2010 reminds us of a few tips and tricks to leave no trace : check this great film!

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