In the remote Ulley Valley, 45 miles west of the Ladakhi city of Leh, the hunter becomes the hunted. Scanning snow-dusted slopes and rock faces with a pair of antique binoculars, Tsewang Norboo, headman of the village of Ulley, squints in the late afternoon sun. Eventually the ethnic Tibetan gives a shrug, hunkers down behind a boulder, and lights a cigarette.‘A snow leopard could be less than 30 feet away we still might not see it,’ he says, eyes bright in a heavily sunburned, weatherworn face. ‘That’s why we call them “grey ghosts” here. They come and go, and you never know they’re there.’With its arid, rocky landscape, oxygen-starved air and death-defying trails, the Ulley Valley has always presented local families with an extreme challenge. At an altitude of over 4,000 metres, eking out an existence in this remote region means adapting to some of the most physically demanding conditions on the planet. Here in northern India’s so-called ‘Little Tibet’, a stone’s throw from the Chinese border, life is a battle with nature that can never be won.Yet Ulley, and a scattering of other hamlets nearby, continue to defy the odds. High above the village’s small cluster of rough, mud-brick… Read full this story
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