AFC Flag Expedition, 2009

First Known Photos of an Argali Sheep Crossing a River

I have just received confirmation that I have taken the only known photographs of a Mongolian argali sheep crossing a river. This occurred at the Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve during my Flag Expedition on the very first morning of observations. In fact, he (Dr. Reading believes it was a yearling ram) was one of four of the first argali I saw on the trip.

Dr. Reading also noted in his reply to my query that “Well, I don’t think anyone ever doubted that argali cross these relatively shallow, relatively slow rivers (at least I never did).  All ungulates (and most mammals) swim pretty well and you need something a LOT more substantial that the Kherlen River to stop them.”

The main reason, I believe, that no one has gotten photographs is that the only place where argali have been studied in any depth is at the Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, which has a few small streams, but no rivers. Research has begun at Gun-Galuut and, in fact, an Earthwatch team is scheduled to be there for part of their time in September, but the emphasis has been on capturing and putting radio collars on the argali, not behavioral observations.

The four sheep that I watched were on the opposite side of the river from their home range, Mt. Baits. Their behavior appeared anxious and finally one bolted back across the river. He climbed up on a high point and looked back. The young ram finally turned and ran back up onto the mountain. The other three argali seemed indecisive and ultimately did not cross, but moved up onto a smaller mountain where I finally lost sight of them.

The group of argali down at the Kherlen River

The group of argali down at the Kherlen River

Suddenly one jumped in

Suddenly one jumped in

And made quite a splash

And made quite a splash

And then swam directly towards us

And then swam directly towards us

Where's everyone else?

Where's everyone else?

Here are detail shots of the main three photos:

Detail: jumping in the river

Detail: jumping in the river

Detail: the splash

Detail: the splash

Detail: swimming across the Kherlen River

Detail: swimming across the Kherlen River

Visit my official Artists for Conservation Flag Expedition page

3 replies »

  1. Bravo!!!! Yet another reason why making an epic journey of this magnitude makes it all so worthwhile. Doubt if I would’ve ever laid my eyes on a photo like this if it wasn’t for you, so thanks!

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  2. Amazing pictures!How wonderful to have so much footage to work with when you get home.This trip really is making that part of the coiuntry real for us followers.Thank you! Be safe! Love,Erzsi

    Like

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