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 the arts, their land and the wildlife they share it with.
The Expedition took place between July 16 and August 6.
Susan (FN’14) carried Explorers Club Flag 179, which has a long and honorable expedition history going back to 1959. It had been to, among other places: Mt. Everest, the South Pacific, the North Pole, Ecuador, the Amazon, Thailand, the Caucasus Mountains , Rwanda, St. Pierre and Yemen.
The 2015 Expedition traveled to western Mongolia to explore Khar Us Nuur National Park, which includes Jargalant Hairkhan Uul, a mountain with a known population of snow leopards; Khomyn Tal, one of the three locations in Mongolia where takhi/Przewalski’s horse has been reintroduced; and the Altai Mountains, where we began the Expedition with three days of observing and recording the argali capture project at Hokh Serkhiin Nuruu Strictly Protected Area. Our hosts were Dr. Barry Rosenbaum, research associate with the Denver Zoo, and Dr. S. Amgalanbaatar, Mongolia’s leading argali researcher, who is also the Director of Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve.
It was a memorable journey to one of the truly special places in the world, helping through our presence as artists to draw attention to, and support the conservation of, some of the most charismatic mammals in the world…the snow leopard, takhi/Przewalski’s horse and argali, the world’s largest mountain sheep.
National Fellow ’14,The Explorers Club
Signature Member, Society of Animal Artists
2015 Expedition Goals:
1.Explore: Khar Us Nuur National Park in Hovd Aimag, including Jargalant Hairhan Uul, a mountain that is home to over three dozen snow leopards; Hokh Serkhiin Nuruu, at the eastern edge of the Altai Mountains, also in Hovd Aimag; and Khomyn Tal, a river valley in Zavkhan Aimag.
2. Learn about World Wildlife Fund snow leopard conservation initiatives in Hovd Aimag (including two or their prey species: argali, the world’s largest mountain sheep and Siberian ibex) and at Khomyn Tal, the current status of the takhi reintroduction project there (which I visited in the fall of 2006, two years after it began).
3. Observe the capture and radio-collaring of argali mountain sheep at Hokh Serkhiin Strictly Protected Area.
4. Learn about the WWF Mongolia conservation and community interface. Visit with local people when possible. The fact that all of the Expedition members are also artists will be very much appreciated.
5. Learn the status of endangered mammal species (snow leopards in the mountain areas, takhi at Khomyn Tal, argali and ibex to the north and west, also in the mountains) and, when possible, birds such as the Dalmatian pelican, saker falcon, white-headed duck and yellow-breasted bunting. We also want to learn about any threatened habitats, what the nature of the threats are, and what is being done to conserve them.
6. Record what we see through photography (still and video), journals, sketchbooks and location paintings.
Khar Us Nuur National Park (RAMSAR site; 1999):
Khar Us Nuur and Khar Nuur (freshwater; birds, including Dalmatian pelican, Pallas’ fish eagle, swan goose, great cormorant)
Dorgon Nuur (saline; “the Mongolian Riviera” where water and sand come together; possibly saiga antelope)
Jargalant Hairkhan Uul/Jargalant Mountain(snow leopard, argali, ibex, lammergeier, golden and steppe eagle, altai snowcock; possibly saiga antelope in the area)
Hokh Serkhiin Nuruu Strictly Protected Area (snow leopard, argali, ibex)
Khomyn Tal (takhi)