Back from the Gobi...
During the past two weeks I have been in the south Gobi capturing and collaring Khulan. We last collared animals within our project “Khulan meets road – Impact of mining related infrastructure development on Mongolian Wild Ass in the Gobi” (for more details see: http://tinyurl.com/p4zn4gs ) in 2013, so it was time to replace collars. All trips to this pretty remote area amount to small expeditions based either in a mining camp (very comfy!) or we moving around and pitching our tents every night. That being said, times have really changed since I first travelled and worked here more than 15 years ago. Due to the expansion of mining activities the area has seen quite some development – GSM cell phone coverage in many areas, shops filled with a selection of wines (really!) petrol availability not a problem. I was actually surprised that they were not offering café lattes instead of the traditional Mongolian milk tea (Suutei tsai) in Khanbogd. The collaring went surprisingly well. As we had to comply with new safety regulations imposed by the funding organisation we were unable to use our trusty Russian UAZ 469 jeeps (no airbags amongst a myriad of other short-comings) and had to resort to Toyota landcruisers 105. I must admit (grudgingly) that the Toyotas proved reliable and certainly far more comfortable. The first batch of 11 animals were collared close to the mine and the respective road. We used the mine’s infrastructure for the nights and this was invaluable as most members of the team, myself included, were suffering from serious colds and sleeping out in the field would have seriously aggravated our health status (thanks to the doc at the mine’s clinic for treatment and drugs). We then moved eastwards and collared another 10 animals in just two days. For the capture we used our well-established chase method which I have previously described in detail here: http://tinyurl.com/p9e39zr In summary, a really good and highly efficient field trip. Thanks to all members of the team for your dedication, support and most importantly good humour.
PK, Chris & Friends