The tolai hare is the only rabbit/hare species found in Mongolia. They’re usually seen in rocky or semi-desert areas. My subject was one that I saw one evening at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. I was positioned up in the rocks above the spring-fed stream waiting for argali sheep to show up when this hare hopped out from behind some rocks into plain view. What made it even better was there was a hoopoe perched on a rock not far away. Both species are very skittish and bolt at any movement. Here’s a couple of photos of hares I’ve seen during my trips to Mongolia.
Also at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu. You have to see them before they see you to have any chance of getting photos. Sometimes they wait until you’re so close that you’ve almost stepped on them and then they explode from right at your feet, which really boosts one’s heart rate!
During the 2016 WildArt Mongolia Expedition we were enroute to the Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area to explore critically endangered Gobi bear habitat (saw tracks and scat but no bears, not surprising when the total population is currently estimated to be 40 of them). The Fergon van that carried our equipment was stopped by a blocked fuel line. We all got out of the SUV and poked around while that was attended to. I spotted this tolai hare right away and got some decent photos before it bounded off.
“Tolai Hare, Mongolia” is available on a range of products for rabbit and hare lovers….prints, pillows, tote bags, clothing, mugs and more. These lanky hares are found in many of the drier areas of the country, including the Gobi, where I saw one in 2016. They are the only species of rabbit or hare in Mongolia. You can see all the offerings with the tolai hare here.
Note: I’ve been having fun with a new app that offers dozens of different edge designs for photos and am using it for some of my shop images. It’s called Edge Effects for Photos. Very easy to use.
The adventure really began on May 26, the morning that the Great Gobi A ranger, Bilgee, led us south to the Strictly Protected Area. No gers, no herders, no livestock, just Gobi for as far as we could see. But even in this forbidding looking landscape, spring flowers were blooming.
The van had been having some overheating problems earlier. stopping a few times to cool down. It was quite hot in the middle of the day, even though it was only May. During one our stops to wait for them we saw a tolai hare.
And we hadn’t even gotten to the Strictly Protected Area yet…
Over the past week I’ve finished, photographed and sent in my entries for the two most important animal art juried exhibitions. Whew. It was pretty intense there for a couple of weeks. Now the waiting begins…tick tock tick tock….In the meantime….
I’ve been wanting to do a painting of a tolai hare, the only member of the rabbit family native to Mongolia, for a number of years, but until last year had never gotten good enough reference. They wait either in cover or pressed to the ground, then explode into view, sometimes almost at your feet, and take off. Definitely gets the adrenaline going. I was at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu last year, staying at the research camp, which is at the head of a valley with a spring and stream. A variety of wildlife, both mammals and birds, come to drink there. One evening I was sitting up on the rocks, hoping to catch argali in good light. But what showed up first was this tolai hare! Since I was already in place and not moving, he/she went about their business none the wiser to my presence. And I finally got what I needed. This is a new species for me, so I did this drawing to “learn what they look like”. I enjoy working on toned paper and adding the touches of white.
Tolai Hares are the only native species of rabbit/hare in Mongolia. I’ve seen them in a variety of locations. Sometimes they will wait, crouched down, until you’re very close and then suddenly explode from cover and take off. leaving you with a nice little adrenaline rush. Many visitors go home with only photos of tolai hare hind ends moving away and I have my share of those. But last year at Ikh Nart I was already up on the rocks just sitting still waiting for argali when this one came out to graze in the early evening light, so after years of trying, I got some very nice photos and will be doing a painting at some point.
At last I was going to see a part of Mongolia that I’d been wanting to for years….the eastern steppe grasslands. Even though Toson Hulstay Nature Reserve covers almost 1.2 million acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, it’s a remnant of an ecosystem that once spread from the Pacific Ocean to the plains of Hungary.
We went back down the slope to a sheltered spot and set up camp. It was a pleasant evening, perfect for our outdoor dining. About 10pm it started to rain…and rain….and rain. It was raining hard in the morning. We had to eat breakfast sitting in the cars. Everyone pitched in to get the tents packed up. I think we set a record for the trip breaking camp. I was wondering what it would be like getting back down the mountain to the road, even though we were in Land Cruisers with a go-anywhere Russian van as our support vehicle. As it turned out the “earth” road was grassy enough that that part was no problem. However, once we arrived at the main road west…
And that concludes the story of the 2013 WildArt Mongolia Expedition.
I’m leaving on Saturday for a road trip to Wyoming. I plan to spend four days in Yellowstone National Park, a day in Jackson for the annual Fall Art Festival and then on east to Dubois for the Susan K. Black Foundation Workshop. Five days, 175 artists, nationally-known instructors…it’s going to be very special week. I hope to post on the blog a couple of times, but will largely cover the goings-on via Twitter and posts to my Facebook fan page.