March 12, 2012

WSCC 2011 Wild Bird Photo Contest Winners

The winners of the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center's (WSCC) 2011 Mongolia Wild Bird Photo Contest have been announced recently.

In 2011 a total of 67 wonderful photos of 52 species were submitted by 17 participants from four countries: Germany, USA, Finland, and Mongolia. Again participants were people with many different backgrounds, birdwatchers, ornithologists, students, teachers, tour guides, and biologists.

1st place: Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus,
Binder, Khentii Province, NE Mongolia. © Ganuskh Danaa.

A photo of the globally Critically Endangered Siberian Crane by D. Gansukh won the 1st place of this year's contest followed by an Amur Falcon by Martin Grimm, and a Great Egret by E. Bolormunkh as 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Also photos of Red-necked Stint by Mathias Putze and Mongolian Ground Jay by N. Batsaikhan took special prizes.

The goal of the annual Mongolia Wild Bird Photo Contest is to raise public awareness, knowledge and appreciation of birds and their habitat conservation, and to promote bird watching in Mongolia.

The winning photos can be viewed here: click.

To see all photos entered click here.

March 9, 2012

Education Efforts in Mongolia Gain Momentum

(27 Feb 2012)

When snow leopards predate on livestock, herding families must make a difficult choice between protecting their livelyhood and protecting the cats. Last year, we discovered that for the people living within snow leopard habitat, the answer to this difficult question was not clear.

When the snow leopard Shonkor killed more than a dozen domestic sheep and goats, we were concerned. We empathized with the herder, and worried about the safety of Shonkor. Incidents like this have driven other herders in Mongolia to kill snow leopards. But this time, the herder contacted our staff. Our field team immediately went to help.

The herder’s first tactics had not worked. He had, in an attempt to keep the cat from killing more of his livestock, parceled out one carcass daily to the cat, hoping it would be too full to kill again. The cat then didn’t want to leave! He stayed, right next to the yurt – and it scared the family.

Our staff used knowledge gleaned from our in-depth research to find a better solution. They helped the herder move one of the dead animals to a hillside far from the yurt, and to get rid of the rest. Shonkor was able to feed on the carcass without threatening the family or the rest of the herd. The family then diligently patrolled the corral – flashing lights at night, making noise, and discouraging Shonkor from returning. He didn’t. As for the family, we helped them to join the new Mongolian livestock insurance program so they can be compensated for livestock losses like this in the future.

This situation highlighted an important need to educate communities about better ways prevent and respond to snow leopard predation.

The first step was to conduct day-long workshops with participants of the Snow Leopard Enterprises program. Over 330 people met to share how they already address snow leopard visits, and learn what additional information they need and want.

Now, Nadia M., Conservation Education Manager for the Trust and its partner organization SLCF Mongolia, has developed a poster summarizing the best practices from the herders and international experts. We plan on distributing 500 posters to people in more than 25 villages, as well as park rangers and others who need the information.

Hopefully, the end result will be fewer of the types of conflicts that can lead to snow leopard killings.

Unfortunately, Shonkor passed away of natural causes in August of 2011. We are grateful that he was able to teach us so much about snow leopards, and how to live in peace with them.

March 3, 2012

Swarming Mongolia

Curator of entomology at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Jon Gelhaus, talks about field life in Mongolia and the international effort to survey the country's aquatic insects.

Read more at The Scientist.