47 Mammal species on the Roof of the World Trip in 2014!

Forty-seven species of Mammal were seen during this year's Mammals of the Roof of the World trip. A staggering total – and it wasn't just the numbers, it was the quality of the sightings and the amazing landscapes. Eleven Tibetan Wolves, a male Pallas's Cat and superb male Tibetan Antelope hardly begins to tell the story. The Tibetan Plateau is a heart-rendingly wild and beautiful place, but visiting it in autumn (early winter for the plateau) is special because one starts to see just how amazing it s that all these animals can survive up here for the winter snows and cold have already started.

I've selected three highlights from this year's trip below, though there are many more. The first groups of Kiang were wonderful. Seeing hundreds of Wild Yaks, Tibetan Gazelle and Kiang in the fantastically scenic Wild Yak Valley as a Tibetan Sandgrouse flew past. Or perhaps it was those lovely square-headed Tibetan Foxes – we were so excited by our first one. Later we were to see thirty-eight on one day! That same day we were in landscapes completely snow-covered all day adnt eh mammals really stood out, from the pack of Tibetan Wolves to the 773 Gazelle counted, and from the impressively antlered White-lipped Deer to the large numbers of raptors. The latter were amazing. We saw so many Lammergeiers, and highest day counts of Sakers were 8 and Upland Buzzards and amazing 183! Przevalski's Gazlle almost gave us the slip but we ended up with great views of a bunch of males of this, one of the World's rarest antelope. And the Golden Takin on the extension. What can I say. Up to forty every day and we even had them wondering around our hotel at night, they clearly found the lawns as comfortable as we found the rooms! We had many close up encounters with these fabulous creatures. An Asiatic Black Bear crossing the river – wow! And great night time views of Hog Badgers, Chinese Ferret-Badger, Masked Palm Civet, Malayan Porcupines and Leopard Cat. We even ran a book on which goat-antelope was going to win. The Long-tail Goral with four was the winner, but was only one ahead of Chinese Goral and the Serow!

Read on for the three highlighted extracts, or visit the tour page on the Greentours website for the whole report – believe me, its worth reading the lot!

The prime stop of the morning happened when Jane spotted a pack of Wolves. These were maybe four hundred metres off the road up a little hill. There were six of them, all looking in fabulous condition, their winter coats looking a picture. They spotted some gazelle and proceeded to hunt them, sending out flanking wolves and generally giving us a little insight into the process which this time was not successful. Shortly after this the Wolves grouped together and started to howl together. Now that must have been an amazing sight and sound! I say that as I was in the first landcruiser and Jane in the second so it was only after fifteen minutes or so that we came back to join them. The Wolves now were started to move. They moved purposefully across the mountainside and then played a little around some rocks. Then they moved around the hill, the front ones looking ahead at whatever interested them, the back three often studying the landscape behind them. Then Jane spotted why. A seventh Wolf was on its way to catch them up. We watching an enthusiastic and playful greeting ceremony. Maybe that was why they had been howling as Jane, Martin and Steve had said they had heard replying howling from round the mountain? It had been an amazing encounter but the Wolves were departing and so must we, for snacks had only kept us going for so long and we eventually made 'brunch' at eleven.

Jesper said 'I've got some Tibetan Antelope'. So he had, so very distant, but there they were. But over the next ten minutes he found more and more, the main group much closer. We could see there were many males with their pale coats and long pointed black horns amongst them. There was nothing for it but to start off across the stunningly open landscape an see if we could get close to them. We knew that with such landscapes it was always further than one thought but I think we all enjoyed the two kilometre walk across the alpine tundra. The air was so clear and the sky seemed something we could touch above us and later the giant 6178m Yuzhu Mountain appeared to the north as the sun came out for a while. We reached a small river and not far over the other side were those fabulous Chiru or Tibetan Antelopes, what a sight. There were around 130 of them with at least ten males – and at this season their coats are in perfect condition awaiting the vicissitudes of winter which here are extreme. George Scahller wrote of the blizzards he encountered here on a winter visit where temperatures dropped to -40C and when many of the antelope die simply because they can't break through the frozen surface to get to some food. Today though it was a balmy 'about freezing' and the antelope looked happy and wandered slowly away from us. A marvellous scene that none of us had ever imagined we'd be able to witness.

After dinner we went on a night drive. This time we drove uphill. This night drive was brilliant even by the high standards Tangjiahe had already set. The very first animal was a gorgeous little Leopard Cat. This animal was investigating the road verge. We got out and walked over to it, the cat hiding for a while until we refound it just two metres from us! It didn't stay long, stealthily working its way away from us through the grasses and herbage. Great start! Next animal was a Masked Palm Civet which we found up a tree. We watched this one clamber down and then wend its way through riverside boulders. Next was a Takin that seemed very disorientated. We thought at first it was our lights but more likely it was a very old animal. We could have reached out of the window and patted it on the head so close was it. By the way, don't do that with Takin! Next up was a mouse. Coming back downhill we found a superb Serow on a bank right above the road, a great photo-opportunity. Things kept coming.... next a young Hog Badger jogged down the road in front of us...

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