We returned to Ulaanbaatar on June 21 and I immediately had to throw myself into preparations for the 2013 Expedition group art exhibition, which will be the subject of my next post and is open now at the Union of Mongolian Artists Gallery until July 7.
The 2014 Expedition was a great success! Here’s some of the highlights. There will be a series of posts once I’m home.
We saw cranes in the Han Hentii Mountains and attended the first-ever International Crane Festival in Binder Soum. We received an excellent briefing on the major crane study which has now gotten under way and in a future post I’ll cover what the researchers are doing, how they’re doing it and what they hope to learn. Below is one of the study subjects, demoiselle cranes with two chicks.
The crane festival was wonderful. There was a show of crane art created by local school children, an opening ceremony with dancers and singers, a horse race, Mongol wrestling and an anklebone shooting competition.
All to celebrate crane conservation! I also got to meet Dr. George Archibald, founder of the International Crane Foundation, who was there with a group of researchers and supporters.
Our next major destination was Tolson Hulstay Nature Reserve, home to between 40,000 and 60,000 Mongolian gazelles. We saw them, a couple of times in large numbers, every time we drove out into the reserve, which also has a dozen small to medium-sized lakes. I fell in love with the grassland steppe and will certainly be going back there. I was able to interview one of the six rangers and get a lot of good first-hand information that I’ll be sharing in a future post.
Mongolian gazelle. Below and at the top of the post.
The legendary grassland steppe. Toson Hulstay is the largest preserved and conserved area of it left. The rainy season had started early. Great for the herders and their animals, who look to have a very good year with excellent grazing. But for traveling by car, it got a little interesting sometimes…