The mountains speak of the greatness of God. My second in a series of three blogs from the Himalayas discusses.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in the Everest region of Nepal, setting up a research project on people and snow leopards. Nowhere is the vastness of the mountains as apparent as here. Between the Khumbu glacier that tumbles from its eastern flank to the summit of the world’s highest mountain is a distance of over 3,500 vertical metres (11,550ft), more than three times the height of Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohill. And this reached from a base camp of around 5,300m/17,500ft that is already higher than any point in the whole of Europe.
Our relationships with wildlife are sorely in need of Divine restoration.
I write these words from the heart of the Himalayas. The days are shortening as autumn turns firmly into winter, and the ice creeps down from the snowclad peaks onto the valley floors. In many ways, life goes on here as it has these many centuries: the harvest has been safely gathered in and people are preparing for the long, hard winter. In other ways, the advent of roads, airstrips and telecommunications now allow these communities unprecedented access to the outside world, and vice versa.
This setting is also the backdrop for another age-old custom: that of conflict between man and beast. The herds of livestock – yaks, horses, goats and sheep – that many people across the Himalayan region depend on for their livelihoods can be an attractive proposition to hungry predators, especially when their natural prey is scarce. Wolf, bear, lynx and snow leopard can all kill domestic animals across the Himalayan region. Not only does this threaten the wellbeing of households and communities, but also the persistence of these wildlife species, as they face potential retaliation from irate villagers.