Next month, Uuganbadrakh will travel to the Gobi Strictly Protected Area to design and test the methods he will use to monitor the Endangered long-eared jerboa.
Little Gobi Strictly Protected Area is designated to protect unique Gobi desert landscape and its biodiversity. Little Gobi has variety of habitat with strange looking cliffs, sand dunes, dried lakes, wide wadi and oasis with streams. It is home to globally endangered Long-eared jerboa, regionally threathened Goitered gazelle, ibex and argali.
The area has patch forests of saxaul, tamarax, elm and populus. Patch forests play important role for the migration birds. Solitarily grown elm trees also play important role for wild animal and livestock to shade. Many insects and birds are attracted to nest and roost, small mammals are attracted by the soft soil and moisture around the roots, and wild and domestic animals find shade under the trees. They also seem to play an important role in creating heterogeneity of desert vegetation.
The climate is extremely arid with less than 150 mm of precipitation per year. It is usual to experience frequent drought and in spring it has continuous sand storms. Local nomadic herders lived there many hundred years and they love their home land and wildlife. Herders make their main income from cashmere and camel wool. Nomadic herders are sparsely distributed over the protected area and its buffer zone. One herder family’s camp can be encountered in 10 to 50 km.
Herder worry about the negative impacts of environmentally irresponsible mining activities because it will pollute the soil and water sources they depend on. ZSL’s Steppe Forward Programme is working with local herders and encouraging them to initiate conservation activities. Two herder groups are conducting conservation research with National University of Mongolia’s students who work for SFP.