Radio collaring wild camels
Adiya was involved in a UNDP / GEF funded project “Conservation of the Great Gobi Ecosystem and its Endangered Species” earlier this year. His role in the project was to assist with radio collaring wild Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus). Radio-collaring enables researchers to track the movements of wild animals and find out important information about their distribution and ecology. Adiya and the team succeeded in fixing radio collars onto 5 wild camels which are now being tracked by the team.
Below is Adiya’s account of the research:
The Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area (SPA) “A” located in the southwestern part of Mongolia bordering the People’s Republic of China is one of the world’s great desert ecosystems. The extremely harsh environment has given rise to a unique ecosystem with particularly well-adapted species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. The large mammal fauna consists of several rare or globally threatened species, one of them being the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus batrianus ferus). Other species that occur here include the Gobi bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis), the snow leopard (Uncia uncia), the argali wild sheep (Ovis ammon) and the Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus).
Human pressures for pastures and water on the edges of the Great Gobi SPA and in its buffer zones have substantially increased since the early 1990s and are believed to have led to significant habitat degradation in some areas. Thus in June 2003 a UNDP / GEF founded project “Conservation of the Great Gobi Ecosystem and its Endangered Species” was initiated. The wild Bactrian camel was identified as a focus species and efforts were made to gather data on camel movement patterns, habitat use and to assess the feasibility of establishing “corridors” between the Great Gobi A SPA and adjacent protected areas in Mongolia and China.
To address these research questions, using satellite telemetry on wild camels was identified as one important research tool. A joint mission was initiated by the UNDP / GEF funded project “Conservation of the Great Gobi Ecosystem and its Endangered Species”, the Mongolian Academy of Science and the Austrian Science Foundation funded project “Landscape level Landscape level research for the conservation of Asiatic wild ass in Mongolia” by the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Vienna, Austria in order to capture and collar wild camels.
The field trip for wild camel collaring in the Great Gobi A SPA was conducted between 20 May and 6 June 2007. The team consisted of 2 national and 2 international researchers: Adiya Yadamsuren, Institute of Biology Mongolian Academy of Sciences; Nyambayar Yanjin, Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area; Chris Walzer and Petra Kaczensky, Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria. Additional team members were Tseveenpurev Baavgai a student from the Agricultural University of Mongolia, Davaa-Ochir Avirmed and G. Enkhbold (drivers) and A. Gerelmaa, camp manager.
The field crew. From left to right standing: Tseveenpurev, Chris, Adyia, Nyambayar, sitting: Davaa-Ochir, Petra, Gerelmaa and Enkhbold
The team covered over 1,800 km in Great Gobi A SPA and was able to successfully capture and radiocollar 5 wild camels (2 bulls and 3 females). The collars are working as scheduled and within the first week of data transmission the animals already covered distances of up to 390 km – highlighting the large spatial requirements of the species. For further details refer to the report by Kaczensky, Walzer and Adiya 2007 under www.takhi.org or www.fiwi.at.