Wild bactrian camels, en route to Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area
I’m still in Mongolia with adventures to come, but wanted to share some favorite images from the Expedition. Once I’m home I’ll be doing my usual multi-part series covering all aspects of the trip. As far as weather, we had some of everything….snow, rain, wind, heat and cold, typical Mongolia. As far as sights, also typical, there was something worth having seen every day.
We did not see any Gobi bear, which was not surprising considering their rarity, but we did see tracks and scat. Just as special, we saw a herd of a dozen wild bactrian camels (see above photo), of which there are estimated to be around 900. They crossed the road in front of us some hundreds of yards away (the image above is cropped). Unlike the domestic version, they can really RUN.
Second day out May snowstorm between Arvaykheer and Bayanhongor
A local ranger leads us ever south into the deep Gobi
After a five day drive we arrived in the Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area. This photo was taken not far from one of the feeding stations.
Valley with oasis about a kilometer hike from camp where two Gobi bear feeding stations are located. The photo of me above was taken in the grey sandy area just beyond the ridge.
One afternoon at our campsite, I was sitting in the shade of our dining tent writing in my journal and all of a sudden I saw a snake coming towards me. It was the second steppe ribbon racer we’d seen, the other having been on the way south when we had to stop for awhile while the drivers cleared a blocked fuel pump. This one went right through camp and into this bush, holding still long enough to get some nice photos.
When we headed back north we went on past Bayanhongor another 30km to Erdenesogt Soum, where we camped for a few days. We didn’t realize it when we set up camp, but quickly found that we were in the middle of a very large colony of Brandt’s voles, who were very entertaining. All I had to do to get dozens of photos was sit in a camp chair with my camera and fire away.
And of course there were also raptors around, including this lovely saker falcon.
En route to our final stop, Hustai National Park and the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project, we camped in an area where the local herders had a lot of horses, including this very flashy stallion, who was kept busy for awhile chasing off a much younger challenger.
The weather was overcast, but the takhi were still wonderful. We saw up to seven family groups at one time in the main valley.
Batbaatar Tumurbaatar of the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project with one of the male bankhar. Lots more to come on this important effort to both revive the tradition of using bankhar as livestock guardian dogs and, in doing so, help with the conservation of predators like the endangered snow leopard.
We were able to meet and talk with a local herder who has one of the project’s pups, a nine month old male.
And finally, for now, a group shot at Hustai. From left to right: Batbaatar Tumurbaatar (Baagii), Susan Fox, Oliver Hartman from Jungles in Paris (film company), Kim Campbell Thornton (nationally known pet writer and journalist) and Greg Goodfellow, director of the project in Mongolia