Zhaparkul in front of the the snow leopard paintin
Snow Leopards in the Caves of Southern France!
Global Big Cat Alliance
Fall 2017 Report
"Science and Indigenous knowledge must work together. We have entered the Altyn Dor (golden age, the time to heal the planet)." - Kyrgyz Elder and Healer Zhaparkul Ata
We give thanks to the ancestors and to each of you for your generous support for our Global Alliance for Big Cat Conservation work. This work in support of these sacred and disappearing apex predators continues only becuase of your generosity and through your spreading the word about our work with your friends, family, and colleagues. Thank you.
This quarter was an exciting one for the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network’s (WISN) Big Cat Alliance, specifically for our work with the Snow Leopards.
WISN has worked with snow leopard shamans and healers throughout Kyrgyzstan and other parts of Central Asia for more than a decade. One of the stories and part of the Kyrgyz oral tradition states that the snow leopard clan people migrated West (towards Europe) tens of thousands of years ago forming the European tribes, for example, the Celts. The Kyrgyz say this migration is one of the reasons there are so few snow leopards remaining in Kyrgyzstan, which of course has been exacerbated in more recent times by poaching, territory encroachment in the name of “development,” and more. However, until recently there was nothing to substantiate this oral history.
In addition to our big cat work, we also do research on the painted caves of Southern France—archeaoacoustics and more. On a trip there in 2016, by chance, we made an incredible discovery—that not only had an image of a snow leopard been painted in Chauvet Cave (in Southeastern France), but also actual bones had been discovered there. Hikers stumbled upon the cave (much as we stumbled upon the discovery of the snow leopard image and bones last year) in 1994. Researchers and scientists later determined these caves had been sealed for at least 26,000 years, so these bones and paintings are known to be at least that old if not older, probably closer to 30-35,000 years old. It was the first linkage that we are aware of linking the migration stories outlining the westward movement of the snow leopards and snow leopard clan people of Kyrgyzstan!
In October of this year, we returned, bringing with us one of our Big Cat alliance members Zhaparkul Ata to these caves to make an offering and to pray at this sacred site, at the foot of the snow leopard image. We also introduced him to one of the most world-renowned cave experts Jean Clottes, one of the first prehistorians to conclude that there is a strong argument to believe that much of the cave paintings and prehistoric art were in fact produced as a result of shamanic practice. The meeting was covered by local media and was an important step in bringing indigenous and Western science together for the purposes of conserving these magnificent beings so critical to the survival of our planet’s fragile eco systems, and for our very own survival.
Thank you again, dear Donors, for your ongoing support to make this work possible.
Coverage in the local papers
Jean Clottes and Zhaparkul sharing their wisdom
Snow leopard image in Chauvet