VANISHING TRACKS

Four Years Among the Snow Leopards of Nepal

By Darla Hillard

Published by Smashwords

With sixteen pages of color photographs

Cover of Vanishing Tracks: Four Years Among the Snow Leopards of NepalPraise for the first edition:

….Hillard gives us a splendid vicarious adventure that ranges from enduring blizzards with only a tent for shelter to the elation of observing a leopard with cubs… Publishers Weekly

….Because she tells us straight away that the project was successful, it isn’t suspense that compels the reader; it is, rather, delight in the author’s ability to capture the monotonous serenity of daily life in the Himalayan wilderness. Booklist

….remarkable tale of extraordinary dedication, perseverance, and accomplishment… encompasses the people and personal adventure – the daunting climbs, ferocious snowstorms, and equally ferocious flies, bedbugs, and thorny plants … Adventure, ecology, politics, heroes and villains – something for everyone here, even those afraid of heights. Kirkus Reviews

This is the extraordinary account of the first scientific expedition to radio-collar and study the elusive snow leopard in its natural habitat. Conducted between 1981 and 1985, the study remains the seminal work on the species. It is also a story of love and high adventure that provides a fascinating, affecting profile of a people inhabiting one of the most isolated and inhospitable regions in the world – the Kanjiroba Himal of western Nepal.

At thirty-two, Darla Hillard had worked as a secretary. She had no scientific training or obvious qualifications to become a member of the Snow Leopard Project – except for her determination and faith in Rod Jackson, the wildlife biologist with whom she fell in love.

In four field seasons in the dramatic Langu Gorge, Darla, Rod, and their team endured the snows of the worst winter in western Nepal’s living memory, monsoon rains that sent landslides and boulders tumbling through their study area, and the isolation and danger of being a two-week hike away from the nearest airstrip. They overcame the natural obstacles of the Langu Gorge’s precipitous terrain; Rod himself suffered a snow leopard bite that postponed the study for a month.

But out of these hardships and frustrations comes the reader’s shared euphoria of each successive capturing and collaring of five cats, producing a landmark study that has helped unlock many of the secrets to this imperiled creature’s survival in the wild, and a lasting affection for the hardy mountain people with whom the team lived.

This second edition includes an updated bibliography and a new Foreword, updating the reader on Rod’s and Darla’s personal lives and professional activities since Vanishing Tracks was first published in 1989.

The E-book is available from Smashwords in formats compatible with Kindle, Palm, and online reading.

Holiday Special, through December 20, enter the code ZN55L to get a 50% discount off the regular price of $4.99.