Arrived in Ulaanbaatar yesterday afternoon. Managed to get together with a couple of the Mongolian scientists that I met on the Earthwatch project in 2005 and got an update about what is happening at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu.
And….had a hoped-for email from my husband informing me that I have had two paintings accepted in the Society of Animal Artists show “Small Works, Big Impressions”! One is of two young marmots and the other is of a takhi mare and foal. The show will be at The Wildlife Experience in Parker, Colorado, which is just south of Denver. More after I get home.
But first, the day before my husband, David, left for home, we walked up to Gandan Monastery and around the downtown. There are more monastery photos on my website but the last time the main temple building was closed. This time we were able to go in and see the gigantic statue of Buddha.
David flew home on the afternoon of the 14th after I had left for Ikh Nart. Colleen, the other artist who accompanied us for part of the trip, and I spent the first day trekking around the reserve. We went out with the driver the second and third mornings. The afternoon of Day Two, two busloads of 26 Swedish tourists, who had come from Moscow via the Trans-Siberian Railway, arrived for a couple of nights, so things were very lively. Here’s a selection of images from Ikh Nart, trip 2-
One of the conservation challenges the reserve faces is illegal mining for gems like amethyst. The addition of more rangers has mostly stopped this kind of thing, but the damage remains and will have to be repaired as funding allows. That’s Colleen in the trench for scale.
On the other hand, this is the kind of thing, besides the wildlife, that makes Ikh Nart special, the amazing rock formations.
Saw very few argali. They were clearly elsewhere, as were the herder families. The rains didn’t come when they were supposed to, so everybody left. Then it rained like crazy, as described in a previous post, and things greened up. It looked like some families were coming back as we left.
I thought that that’s what seeing these horse meant, but learned last night that the herders take their sheep, goats and camels, but leave the horses on their own. Looks like they’re doing ok to me.
The reserve faces a number of threats, including overgrazing and climate change, so the challenges exist on a micro and macro level. At one time the grass came up to the bellies of the cows. I hardly saw any grass. It is being replaced by “forbs”, perennial plants, some of which is edible by livestock and some not. I have no idea what the possibility is of reversing this, if it can be done at all. Climate change may trump everyone’s efforts. So, the work then will be to help the country people adjust to the new reality. I don’t know what the prognosis is for the wildlife. The argali seem to be holding their own, so far, which is good.
One of the things I love about Ikn Nart are the sunrises and sunsets on the rocks. So, to conclude my Mongolian trip blog, here’s a couple of final images from one of my favorite places in the world.
Thanks to all of you who followed along and left comments. I had no idea whether this would work or not and I’m glad it did. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Not that long ago, just making an international phone call from Mongolia would have been a challenge. Now Mongolia is as connected to the rest of the world as the USA. Most Mongolians can’t afford their own computers yet, but there are lots of internet cafes to provide access
I fly to Beijing tomorrow, stay overnight and then home. Hope to be back at the easel after catching up on mail, petting the cats, kissing my sweetie, etc. Oh, and getting at least the basic cataloging done on the over 2300 images I’ve shot. I can hardly wait to get painting again!