The mission of the WildArt Mongolia Expeditions is to use art to support conservation
in a country whose people have a deep cultural and historical
respect for both the arts and their land.
They are art adventures with a conservation connection!
THE SIX ECOSYSTEMS OF MONGOLIA: PAST AND PRESENT (FOR THE FUTURE)
You are invited to participate in the fifth WildArt Mongolia Expedition…
Sain bain uu/Greetings!
This year’s Expedition will feature the six ecosystems of Mongolia: Mountain, Forest, Forest/Steppe, Steppe, Desert/Steppe and Desert.
We will travel to a specific destination in each of the six ecosystems of Mongolia and record each one through a variety of media. The purpose is to compare and contrast the condition of the land and wildlife in the past with their current condition and status. We’ll stay 2-3 days in each location.
The Expedition’s goals will be to:
1. Document the changes to each ecosystem over time (30-130 years-present). Preliminary research is currently under way via old travel accounts and photographs, along with consultation with Mongolians who are researchers or who either grew up, or have spent significant time, in the countryside.
2. Establish, when possible, the cause(s) of the changes, including the effects of climate change.
3. Document the current landscapes, wildlife and people in a variety of media; paintings, drawings, journals, photographs, video.
4. Make the information gathered, both past and present, available to decision makers such as government officials, NGOs working in the country, directors of parks and nature reserves, researchers and also online for the public in both English and Mongolian. Set it up on the internet so that it can be added to over time by crowdsourcing.
How we’re going to do it:
1. I will select our Expedition destinations, one for each of the six ecosystems.
2. I will also choose a featured mammal, bird and plant for each one, plus a cultural component.
3. I am currently researching and collecting historical information about each destination, the land and wildlife, from 90-150+ years ago, including books about travel to and through Mongolia (dating back to 1852 so far), old photos, films (including footage of Roy Chapman Andrews), art and documents.
4. Once in the field, we will create art to document each location, along with taking photographs, shooting video and keeping journals.
5. At each destination we will compare and document the similarities and differences between the present and the past through photos (taken from same vantage point of historic photos when possible), video, art and interviews .
6. In the field, as opportunity permits, we will interview elders who either remember themselves, or who have been told by their parents or grandparents, what the land and wildlife were like before and during socialist times.
7. Apply expertise from the fields of biology, botany, ornithology, mammalogy, entomology, herpetology, geology, limnology, ecology and meteorology to understand what has changed and why. (I will be consulting experts in those fields as needed, particularly researchers with Mongolia experience).
8. The Expedition will communicate its findings through a variety of media; blog posts, magazine articles, social media, public talks, an online art exhibition and possibly a “live” exhibition.
Land can be degraded and wildlife populations greatly reduced by human use and abuse. What is considered “normal” then changes over time. The memory of what had been is lost as each generation passes. Susan has heard a number of accounts over the years of “how things used to be”, such as “the grass used be over the gazelle’s heads”, when now, in a major reserve, it comes up to their bellies at most. In order to restore an ecosystem, or part of one, knowledge of the original condition of the land and its animal species is critical. Historical records exist for many locations in the ecosystems of Mongolia in a variety of media, along with elder memory, but have not been collected into a form that is easily consulted. There is also a large body of information available on the current status of all six ecosystems. I believe it would be valuable to have both sets of information available online and presented together where they can be used for research and educational purposes, including raising awareness of the memory shift that occurs over time, which results in acceptance of current conditions as a norm. In our turn, we will create a record of the ecosystems we visit for the future.
Expedition Leader: Susan Fox
Dates: July 19-August 12, 2017
This will be a tent camping trip out in the open countryside with minimal amenities, traveling in Russian fergon vans with drivers, an English-speaking guide, a cook and a camp assistant. We will be a fair amount above sea level (Ulaanbaatar, the capital, is at the same elevation as Denver, Colorado, about a mile). Mongolia has an extreme continental climate, which means that a variety of weather is possible at any time of year. Participants must be prepared and have appropriate clothing and equipment for both heat and cold, wind and rain. Recommendations and suggestions will be provided. Participants need to be in decent physical condition and health. A means of charging camera batteries and gadgets like iPads will be available.
All Expedition arrangements are being made, and staff and vehicles provided by, Nomadic Journeys, with whom I have traveled for ten out of my eleven trips. Their website has information about their regular tour offerings and on traveling in Mongolia.
Please contact me here by leaving a comment or through my website contact form at https://foxstudio.biz/purchase-information/
3-4 participants USD 4000
5 participants USD 3700
6 participants USD 3500
To reserve your space, you will need to pay a $300 deposit on the Nomadic Journeys website. Travel and country information will be provided, along with suggestions for reading and an annotated packing list.
The Land of Blue Skies is the last great undiscovered wildlife and art destination, both of which richly deserve to be better known. Artists are respected in Mongol society and held in high regard.
Travel, while challenging at times on the earth roads, is usually more benign than in Africa. And although costs are slowly rising year by year, 2-3 weeks in Mongolia is less than half the cost of a similar safari in Kenya.
But the biggest difference is that you can get out of your car almost anywhere you want to. The whole country, twice the size of Texas, is available for walking, hiking, location painting and sketching. With a GPS and proper clothing, you can take off on your own in almost all the reserves and parks.
Except for the forested mountains, wildlife is readily visible and includes takhi/Przwalski’s horse, argali (the world’s largest mountain sheep), Siberian ibex, saiga antelope, corsac and red fox, tolai hares, pikas, jerboas, hedgehogs, Siberian marmots and, believe it or not, multiple species of wild hamsters. There are also a few reptile and amphibian species, along with grasshoppers, butterflies and other insects. Mongolia is one of the world’s birding hotspots, with 427 species recorded, including quite a few that are endangered. It is not unusual to see golden eagles, steppe eagles, black kites, kestrels, upland buzzards, eurasian black vultures and demoiselle cranes by the side of the road.
The Mongolian people, though generally shy upon a first meeting, are gregarious, generous and welcoming. They appreciate attempts to speak their language and any efforts visitors make to learn and follow their customs.