The WildArt Mongolia Expedition 2014 Part 3: The First-ever International Crane Festival, Binder Soum, Han Hentii Aimag

Dr. George Archibold. Founder of the International Crane Foundation, was honored at the opening ceremony.
Dr. George Archibold. Founder of the International Crane Foundation (holding the photograph), was honored at the opening ceremony. On the far right is Nyambayar Batbayar, the Mongol researcher in charge of the crane study. (If anyone reading this can identify any of the other people in the photo, please do so in the comments and I’ll add them)

On June 13, as planned, we attended the first International Crane Festival, which was held in the soum center of Binder, Han Hentii Aimag. It was a wonderful day and great to be able to, by our attendance, support the local community and the researchers. The first thing I noticed was a very large display of art created by local children. Since the main mission of the WildArt Mongolia Expeditions is to find ways to use art to support conservation, I could not have been happier to see this. I tried to photograph every piece and I’ve posted all those images, plus the opening ceremony and other activities. You may notice that the traditional clothes look different than what you usually see in my posts and that is because we were in Buryat Mongol country, which extends from northeastern Mongolia north into southern Siberia. Buryat dels have a distinctive front design and their boots and hats are different than the Khalkh Mongol versions. The feeling of being welcomed, however, was the same as everywhere else I’ve been in Mongolia.

Informational map
Informational map
Informational poster
Informational poster
Dr. Archibald doing a filmed interview
Dr. Archibald doing a filmed interview
The art display area
The art display area

ICF 4ICF 5ICF 6ICF 7ICF 8ICF 9ICF 10ICF 11ICF 12ICF 13ICF 14ICF 15ICF 16ICF 17ICF 18ICF 19ICF 20ICF 21ICF 22ICF 23ICF 24ICF 25ICF 26ICF 27

Printed materials
Printed materials
Photos
Photos
Photos
Photos
Activity table for local kids. They're making paper cranes.
Activity table for local kids. They’re making paper cranes.
I thought this was a great idea.
I thought this was a great idea.

Then it was time for the opening ceremony!

Buryat dancers
Buryat Mongol dancers
Solo performer. She really rocked it!
Solo performer. She really rocked it!
Young singer in Buryat clothes.
Young singer in Buryat clothes. I liked the contrast with the girl in the photo above.

 

She did a dance about fetching water that I'd like to learn more about.
She did a dance about fetching water that I’d like to learn more about.

The festival had all the usual events..horse race, wrestling, anklebone shooting and more…

The anklebone shooting competition.
The anklebone shooting competition.
The finish of the horse race.
The finish of the horse race.
Cooling down her mount. The race horses always have the binding on the tail, so easy to tell which ones they are.
Cooling down her mount. The race horses always have the binding on the tail, so easy to tell which ones they are.
Mongol bukh (wrestling).
Mongol bukh (wrestling).
I got some great action shots!
I got some great action shots!
During the break between rounds, these kids came out into the arena and picked flowers.
During the break between rounds, these kids came out into the arena and picked flowers.
The five winners of the horse race riding in formation. They did a couple of full-circle wheels in unison. I was quite impressed.
The five winners of the horse race riding in formation. They did a couple of full-circle wheels in unison. I was quite impressed since, as far as I know, the horses are not trained for this kind of thing at all.
We went to the shop in town and came upon this group who gave a concert that evening.
We went to the shop in town and came upon this group who gave a concert that evening. A colorful ending to a great day!

The WildArt Mongolia Expedition 2014 Has Returned!

gazelle headerWe 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.

demoiselle cranesThe 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.

crane festThe opening ceremony included a traditional dance by young Buryat Mongol girls.

buryat dancers 2Mongol-style wrestling (Bukh)

binder wrestlersThe finish of the horse race.

horse raceAnklebone shooting.

shagaAll 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.

gazelles 2

The legendary grassland steppe. Toson Hulstay is the largest preserved and conserved area of it left. steppeThe 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…

car crossing earth roadBut of course it was worth it!