Dr Jonny Hanson YouTube channel launched

This is the trailer for my new YouTube channel, where you can watch all of my videos.

Thanks to the Northern Ireland Science Festival, Jubilee Community Benefit Society, the Snow Leopard Conservancy and everyone else who has played a part.

Mountains of the mind

It’s not the imposing spires of the Himalayas that are the world’s most challenging peaks; it’s the mountains of the mind. These mental massifs also dictate the success or failure of snow leopard conservation, and of nature conservation in general. Some parting thoughts from the series in Snow Leopard Fieldwork Diaries 19.

Snow Leopard Research Nepal

Two months on from finishing fieldwork, the snow leopard conservation journey continues.

The Himalayas may be thousands of miles from where I sit writing this, but their epic proportions feel much closer to home. That’s because the mountains that I’ve been working amongst over the last two months are not physical entities but mountains of data. With over 700 household questionnaires and 70 interviews collected there’s a lot of information to be sifted through and checked. I’ve just spent three weeks, for example, going through around 15,000 responses to open questions – were the respondent can say whatever they want rather than picking predetermined answers – and putting them in relevant categories. Only now am I ready to start analysing this data with statistics.

View original post 373 more words

The voices of those who matter II

Conservation = nature + human nature. But it’s the human nature bit that’s the tricky part, especially where large carnivores are concerned. Snow Leopard Fieldwork Diaries explores the nuances of these relationships in Nepal’s Annapurna Conservation Area.

Snow Leopard Research Nepal

How people in Annapurna Conservation Area think about and feel towards the snow leopard.

In the ‘voices of those who matter‘ we looked at how people in Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) felt about the snow leopard.  In this blog we do the same with the 500-plus people we’ve talked to in our other study site: Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA)  After all, these are the people who live alongside the snow leopard day-in, day-out.  Their views of of the species are often shaped by practical experiences of losing livestock or via their religion, rather than through the comfortable lens of zoological collections or wildlife documentaries.  But like people everywhere, their opinions are diverse, multifaceted and important.

View original post 539 more words

Seven days in Little Tibet

One of the world’s most remote and extraordinary places, Nepal’s NarPhu valley has everything: stunning scenery, challenging trekking, Tibetan Buddhist culture, Cold War history. And did we mention the snow leopards? A week of wonder in Snow Leopard Fieldwork Diaries 17.

Snow Leopard Research Nepal

A blow-by-blow account of a week spent in the restricted NarPhu valley searching for snow leopards and their calling cards.

Day 1

Start: Koto 2600m

Finish: Mehta 3560m

Net altitude gain: 960m

Journey time: 8 hours 45 minutes

Armed to the teeth with permits, we were let into the valley by the police without any problems. Immediately a different world: no tourists, no road, hardly any litter. The river gorge we followed was incredible – 1,000m/3,300ft rock walls towering over us on both sides, the sky a sliver of light far above. Sore neck from continually gaping upwards. Below the narrow path a sharp fall to certain death in the ferocious Naar khola (river). Exhausting walk. Out like a light.

Blue sheep, common throughout the valley

View original post 626 more words

Tax dodging and conservation

With tackling tax loopholes making global headlines, as nations seek to simultaneously finance post-COVID and green economy investments, it’s worth taking a fresh look at the significance of this for conservation, as we seek to stem the loss of genes, species and ecosystems by investing in the global public good that is biodiversity. My blog from 2014, and my subsequent editorial in Oryx, delve deeper.

Thinking like a human

Conservationists should take note of tax dodging and its potential links to biodiversity loss, argues Jonny Hanson, although research is needed to clarify the relationships.

Santa Claus is in trouble.  A recent cover of the satirical British magazine,Private Eye saw him being heckled for living offshore and not paying tax in the UK.  This irreverent take on Father Christmas may have been in jest, but it underscores the magnitude of the issue: tax dodging is highly political.  Especially since the financial crisis of 2007-08, and from the grassroots to the great and the good, it has rarely been out of the public spotlight.

That’s because tax dodging is big business.  Christian Aid, an international development NGO, estimates that $160 billion of tax is lost every year by developing countries due to tax dodging by multinational companies (MNCs) alone. This is 50% more than the entire global aid budget.

View original post 994 more words

Himalayan Fawlty Towers

In Snow Leopard Fieldwork Diaries 16, Jonny and the team experience the Himalaya’s very own version of Fawlty Towers, and live to tell the tale. There’s never a dull moment in conservation social science research…

Snow Leopard Research Nepal

The worst hotel in town happens to be the only hotel in town. Expect fireworks.

A tired and hungry bunch of snow leopard researchers arrive at their accommodation after seven hours of exhausting hiking in the baking sun. What they don’t realise is that they have arrived at the NarPhu valley’s version of Fawlty Towers, staffed by the venerable manager (let’s call him Basil) and his hapless assistant (let’s call him Manuel). The scene is set for a memorable stay.

View original post 642 more words

Goldrush

A caterpillar fungus with a street value more than some illicit drugs, for which people will risk life and limb to gather in Asia’s high mountains. Read all about it in Snow Leopard Fieldwork Diaries 15.

Snow Leopard Research Nepal

The extraordinary tale of the extraordinary fungus found widely in some snow leopard habitat.

At this time of year, high up in the Himalayas, multitudes of people can be seen combing the ground beneath them, as if looking for something lost. They proceed slowly on their hands and knees, painstakingly covering every square inch of hillside. Every so often, one stops, pulls out a trowel and digs carefully in the soil. Then they lift their prize to examine it in the light – a small, wizened, root-like object, its pale yellow colour obscured by a dusting of soil. Welcome to yartsagunbu season in Nepal. Welcome to the goldrush.

View original post 673 more words

Electric cars on The Nolan Show

Nissan Leaf 2.0

‘A small country with big potential’ – with electric vehicles and so many other sustainability solutions.

Talking electric car trials and tribulations with Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio Ulster this morning.

Catch up from 48:30 here.

No free lunch

In Snow Leopard Fieldwork Diaries 14, Jonny and Maurice discuss the hidden perils of conservation social science research. Seven years on and they’re still publishing journal articles from this work.

Snow Leopard Research Nepal

A bright idea for surveying tourists turns into a lot of extra work. Maurice and Jonny recount the sad story.

Maurice: ‘Rinzin, can you please check with him if he is happy to sell his last bottle of methylated spirits to us…’

Rinzin: ‘Yes, he is more than happy!’

Maurice: ‘Fantastic! And could you check with him that he really doesn’t need it…’

After much dialogue, headshaking and difficult facial expressions, it became clear there was, in fact, a problem.

View original post 1,108 more words