|AT THE EDGE|
All but invisible, the snow leopard waits. On great cliffs across the valley, bharal males fight viciously over mating rights. They neglect to eat. Many are injured. The snow leopard bides its time until nightfall when it will prey on the weak.
December is freezing and bleak in the Rumbak valley in Ladakh, Northern India. Five thousand metres up, the air contains only half oxygen of a breath taken at sea level. On the rain-shadowed northern side of the Himalaya, few plants grow. Much of the landscape is vertical.
Higher up the valley a wolf pack violently rejects an application to join by a lone wolf. He must settle for a wary scavenge of the pack’s old kill. Little meat is left. Only the bone-eating bearded vulture can extract an adequate meal. The lone wolf moves off, driven to keep trying to join a pack no matter what.
As winter days lengthen streams thaw and the amazing dipper bird goes diving for insect larvae under the ice. Bharal climb to higher, flatter country to the first green grazing of the year. The snow leopard climbs with them. A tibetan wolf tries his luck at hunting the bharal herd but they escape to the cliffs where the wolf lacks the agility to follow. The cliffs are the bharals’ home; but they also harbour the silent snow leopard. The wolf hunts for a family of nine....