The mysterious Ounce of the Himalaya
The Himalaya. Many things to many people. Mt. Everest to some. Pilgrimage to others. The Yeti or the Abominable Snowman to many. Bhutan and Nepal to yet others. Few outside India associate the high peaks of the Himalaya with India. And yet more Himalayan geography falls in India than outside it.
After catching her breath, she narrows down her interest on a pair of Himalayan Blue Sheep or Bharal that are grazing on dried winter grasses atop a cliffy landscape, after separating them from the herd. A calculated chase follows. She is lapping at the heels of the Bharal male. She takes one leap and catches hold of the Blue Sheep. But soon hard ground gives way beneath both of them. Whether she has calculated the distance to the edge of the cliff or this development takes her by surprise, they are both off the cliff's edge, and spiral downwards together. The Bharal is in the tight hold of the female Ounce or Snow Leopard. Talk about the aerial righting reflex of cats. This is an extreme case… The Snow Leopard twists and turns her body in the air, anticipating the rude fall at the end of the approximately four hundred foot fall off the cliff!
And when the two do fall together, the Snow Leopard cleverly cushions her own fall over that of the Blue Sheep. And in that moment of extreme gravity-fuelled impact, the Bharal gets a chance to break away and escape. But the hungry and desperate Snow Leopardess has not gone through this extreme fall for nothing. She lunges forward and grabs the Bharal back in the grasp of her paws and mouth. They fall together several hundred more feet, bumping and thumping their way down over the rocks, taking on huge impact and lacerations. Finally the flight and fall end, and the triumphant Snow Leopard has a subdued Bharal within its grasp. She is injured and bruised but nothing that a few days of rest will not take care of.
This is surely one of the most fantastic natural history sequences ever recorded in the annals of wildlife filmmaking! This is the FIRST EVER sequence of a wild Snow Leopard actually making a kill on camera, and what fabulous gymnastics and callisthenics to boot! Do note the behaviour that you might otherwise miss. It allows us to do even more justice to this fascinating footage, especially as it’s been shot in 4K. There is a lot going on here that we don’t notice at first glance. The way the Bharal still has the strength to attempt to pull itself away from the Snow Leopard, just after the first stage of the fall, and the manner in which the dexterous big cat is able to maneuver its body and right itself mid-flight, to help it survive. This footage tells us a lot about the two animals in terms of behaviour and physiology. What drama from the Himalaya! Not exactly another day in the life of a Snow Leopard, but this young female Snow Leopard demonstrates to us the extreme conditions that occasionally challenge its very harsh life in the high mountains. And yet this fascinating animal continues its unique way of life in the high Himalaya, far from the prying gaze of human beings. The following season, in the winter of 2019, we returned to her cliffy rock faces and found her faring well and back in hunting action. We distantly followed her to check on her condition. She has no lasting effect of that fall and is dexterous and adept as ever. Hopefully, she will have cubs this year.
This footage is part of the broadcast stock footage archive of Wilderness Films India Ltd., the largest collection of HD imagery from South Asia. The collection comprises of 150, 000+ hours of high quality broadcast imagery, mostly shot on 4K, 200 fps slow motion, Full HD, HDCAM 1080i High Definition, Alexa and XDCAM. Write to us for licensing this footage on a broadcast format, for use in your production! We are happy to be commissioned to film for you or else provide you with broadcast crewing and production solutions across South Asia. We pride ourselves in bringing the best of India and South Asia to the world…
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