National Geographic : 2000 Sep
Talle Valley Camp, 8:00 p.m. HEN THE OLD PEOPLE EAT THE RATS, they leave nothing." Nani Sha, range officer of the Talle Wildlife Sanctuary in northeastern India, is explaining the eating habits of his tribe, the Apatani. "Rats like these are not found outside Talle. People walk for days just to eat them. For me, I prefer not to eat the skull, but its brain I do take." Sha leans against a log by the fire as he talks, pausing to drink rice beer from a tin cup, then lighting a cigarette with a burning stick. "Talle Valley rats," Bulo Lampung, the sanctuary's forest guard, says BY JESSE OAK TAYLOR-IDE Youthful zest and jungle smarts equipped the author, at age 17, for a great quest: tracking and photographing the elusive clouded leopard in its Himalayan realm. For Jesse, here crossing the Dihang River in north eastern India, the project was not only part of a wildlife survey he helped conduct, it was also in keeping with a family legacy of environmental activism and social service.