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Wild Mongolia - Journey into the unknown


Antee

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wow gorgeous looking wild asses, and so lucky to see the goitered gazelle. you had some really amazing sightings, thanks to your persistence and a great guide! was it difficult communicating with the local people or did you leave it to tumen to communicate most of the time?

Well, it was not difficult, it was impossible to communicate with the nomadic people :)

No one can speak English and you can´t read anything as it is cyrillic letters.

 

Tumen is also not very good in English. You can communicate with him quite good but sometimes it getting hard. His wife, Oyunaa is very good in English and I used her to communicate with the locals.

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inyathi

@@Antee Really fascinating report there’s certainly a great variety of mammals to see in this part of the world and it looks like you did pretty well. That's fantastic, that you saw both snow leopard and manul, the khulans are pretty special too. You said that no one has really discovered the snow leopards of Mongolia yet, I just happened to receive the latest newsletter from NatureTrek this morning and there’s a short piece on snow leopards in Mongolia in it. I think they may have been visiting Mongolia for a couple of years but the snow leopards are an entirely new addition. They visit the foothills of the Altai Mts. to find them I have to say this has considerable appeal as it looks like it’s nothing like as tough as visiting Hemis in Ladakh. I’ve just read a report of their 2015 trip ‘Birding in the Steppes of Genghis Khan’ and there’s no mention of snow leopards but they saw an impressive array of mammals including the horses in Hustai.

 

Here’s a link to their leopard trip, I’m guessing that they’ve only done an exploratory trip so far and next year’s trip will be the first that they’ve sent clients on.

Mongolia’s Snow Leopards

 

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12. Argali sheep Near threatened

 

Another target species of mine. The first mammal we saw on the entire trip was actually an Argali sheep.

We only saw them in Ikh Nart and only 4 individuals.

 

This lonely female was the first mammal of the trip. She seemed harmed. Close by was a fresh "fighting place" with both wolf and sheep tracks. Tumen said that he was almost sure they had been fighting recently and thats why she was laying in the grass all alone.

 

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She was limping away from us when we got to close.

 

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The other 3 individuals was further away in Ikh Nart.

Very shy as usual in terms of animals in Mongolia.

Heavy cropped photo.

 

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This is the worlds largest Sheep. They are even bigger in western Altai mountains and also some other subspecies in central asia but overall, it is the largest sheep in the world.
This comes with a heavy price.

Trophy hunting...

 

At least 75% of the population has been lost in the last 25 years.

We were in a very good habitat for them but only managed to see 4 individuals.

In Ikh Nart they are protected which is very good.

 

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13. Northern three-toed jerboa Least concern

 

Jerboas, oh man! I got in love with them. So funny to study when they jumping around like mini-kangaroos.

 

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Mongolia is a heaven if you wanna be a Jerboa in your next life. They have 11-12 species of them and they thrives in Gobi desert.

With the Long eared Jerboa as the most spectacular and bizarre-looking.

Spotlighting an hour after dark is the way to do it.

They are so funny. First they jump like crazy, trying to get away from the light. Then suddenly staying completely still hiding behind a stone or bush, thinking they are invisible.
You can get so close that you can even touch them.

 

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Many species have a long beautiful tail.

 

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14. Alashan ground squirrel Least concern

 

This is a hard-to-see-guy as it only lives in a small area in Gobi desert. We found it when driving between main places.

Cute little guy with pale colors.

 

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15. Przewalski horse Endangered

 

The worlds only true wild horse with different chromosomes than domestic horses.
Many claim to have wild horses but that´s not the case. That is only free.roaming Feral horses with domesticated ancestors.

 

It is endemic to Mongolia and you can find them in 3 different protected areas.

I saw them in Hustai NP.

 

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They live in a beautiful area, for sure. They are compact built to stand the harsh winters in the mountains.

 

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Today, around 350 horses lives in Mongolia and they are well protected.

 

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Other things.

 

Mongolian pit viper

 

When we spotting for Snowleopard in Yolyn Am mountains we got some unexpected company...

 

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Golden eagle

 

Common eagle in Mongolia. We saw many of them in mountain and steppe areas. Didn´t saw them in Gobi desert.

 

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Steppe grey shrike

 

Common bird in Mongolia.

 

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To be continued...

Edited by Antee
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Not only "off the beaten track" but "off the any track"! As much of an adventure as it could be. Thanks for sharing those far away places and wildlife and people with the rest of us, @@Antee !

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16. Red fox. Least concern

 

Where there are alot of rodents you also find Foxes. In Mongolia you have two species, Red fox and Corsac fox. You find them both more or less in the whole country. Unfortunately we didn´t saw the latter but got some nice look on the Red Fox.

We saw them both day and night in Yolyn Am mountains and also several individuals in Hustai NP.

 

Spotlighting in the night for Snowleopards gave us also an intrusive Red fox.

 

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Most active in night and dusk we also had a good look at them in daylight in Yolyn Am.

 

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Searching the slopes for rodents.

 

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In Hustai NP one of them attracted much attention from the Przewalski horses. They didn´t like him...

 

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17. Pallas pica. Least concern

 

Fox favourite food! Picas...

They were in millions in Gobi mountain areas. Foxes has a large pantry here. I am sure we also saw the Daurian Pica as they live in the same habitat and both of them are common. They are almost impossible to tell apart and we could only confirm Pallas pica.

 

Their heads popped up everywhere.

 

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18. Gobi jerboa Least concern

 

Another species of Jerboa we found in southern Gobi desert when we searched for the Long eared jerboa.

 

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If you look at their feets it is all hairy. That´s their "snowshoes" on sand. A very well adapted development for living in a desert.

 

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Still no Long eared jerboa, where are they??

But yet another kind...

 

19. Five toed pygme jerboa Vulnerable/Data deficient

 

Not very much is know about this litle guys.

Inadequate information on distribution, population size and trends, or the impact of threats.

We saw them in Southern Gobi desert when searching for Long eared jerboa.

This one has certainly not very long ears :)

Very cute though. Huddle and think that it is invisible.

 

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Other things.

 

Lammergeier

 

Or the bearded vulture as it is also called.

The bearded vulture is the only known animal whose diet is almost exclusively bones.

Common in Yolyn Am. In fact "Yol" is the word for Lammergeier in mongolian. Yolyn Am therefore means "Lammergeier valley".

They thrive in this mountain areas.

 

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Steppe eagle

 

Many birds of prey in Mongolia, here is another one...

Endangered eagle who sees the same problem as many Vultures these days. Heavy exposed to diclofenac poisoning from the carcasses they eat.

 

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To be continued.

Four species left and three targets, which I missed two. Wolf, Mongolian Gazelle and Long eared Jerboa.

Edited by Antee
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kittykat23uk

Love the Pika and the jeroboas!

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Kitsafari

Love the Pika and the jeroboas!

 

me too! all those little fellas are adorable. and that beautiful red fox with that beautiful thick tail is just great.

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Love the Pika and the jeroboas!

 

 

 

Love the Pika and the jeroboas!

 

me too! all those little fellas are adorable. and that beautiful red fox with that beautiful thick tail is just great.

 

 

Mongolia has 121 species of mammals and many of them is in the category "small, hairy, fluffy things" :)

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Last post from wild Mongolia.

 

20. Mongolian gazelle Least concern

 

One of my targets.

Still one of the numerous large animals in the world (in spite of the fact that around 100 000 are killed each year) with about 1.5 million individuals, it was quite easy to see them.

As many others they are very skittish and hard to come close.

 

They form huge herds with thousand of animals and the nomadic people doesn´t like them because they eat all the grass from the livestock. Both nomadics and Mongolian gazelle have the same interest in following the fresh and best grass. Always on the move.

 

We saw the first big herd in Ikh Nart.

 

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Trying to sneak behind rocks...

 

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Then we saw them on many places from our car when we were travelling between places. You don´t find them in Gobi desert but more in the steppe landscape. So they don´t share their habitat with Goitered gazelles.

 

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Always on the run, afraid of us, we could come rather close to this group. We had left the car behind and snuck ourselves in good position. Although they already had seen us, there was a moment when they didn´t ran away...

 

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Later on, more running gazelles...

 

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21. Long tailed ground squirrel Least concern

 

Another one of these small hairy things that is so common in Mongolia.

This one is collecting for winter storage.

 

We saw them in Hustai NP as they like submontane steppes.

 

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22. Tarbagan marmot Endangered

 

Also called Siberian marmot.

Overhunted for skin trading is the main reason why the population has a declining curve that slopes steeply down...

Around 100 million (Think about that number again) Marmots was killed during the 1900´s

Since 2006 Mongolia have banned the hunting but it´s still alot of illigal skin trading.

The only place we saw them was in Hustai NP.

 

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23. Siberian jerboa Least concern

 

The last animal on my "what I´ve seen"-list is the Siberian Jerboa.

 

Once again it was not the most sought after Long eared Jerboa which was one of my targets during this trip.

This Jerboa is very, very fast. Jumping around like crazy in the desert like a mini-kangaroo.

But if you follow them for a while they often stops.

 

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Other things.

 

Wolf

 

The other target species we didn´t find. We searched for them all day in Hustai NP which is a very good place to see them.

We heard them in the morning. We saw a fresh kill from last night, Red deer which they had been feeding on.

And we saw this old carcass from a dead Wolf...

 

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Trip summary.

 

Only missed two target species. Long eared Jerboa and Wolf.

I think we was a bit unlucky with the Wolves as they are common in Hustai NP and we saw sign of them everywhere.

 

Regarding Long eared Jerboa there is only one explanation why we didn´t manage to see one. They were already hibernating.
Tumen thought that they should still be on the ground in mid september but unfortunately they were all sleeping already.

Two weeks earlier and I had seen alot of them.

But I got some other nice species of Jerboas as you can see.

 

Highlight of the trip was of course the Snowleopard with the runner up, Pallas cat.
If it was two species I thought I would fail... it was these two. But they were easy :)

 

Another highlight was the overall experience of such a vast and unexplored country like Mongolia really is.

I feel privileged to be the first western human being on special places on earth these days.

There is still untouched places out there!

 

Can not recommend Tumen and his wife Oyunaa highly enough. Such a great people to be in the wilderness with.

 

Thanx for reading. I hope I showed a glimpse of Mongolia and it´s wildlife. To have a 100% experience you have to go by yourself :)

 

See you in another trip report some day...

Edited by Antee
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Atravelynn

Page 1

 

Great choice for a remote location. Your camping shots are very artistic!

 

Nice job on the Goitered gazelle and truly excellent work on the wild asses running next to your car. Moving animals and moving vehicle make for difficult photography, but your shots are wonderful.

 

The peeking polecat is adorable. Thanks for the cropping help with the pallas cat. They may be domesticated but your camel shots are splendid. Your array of gerbil photos bring back memories of Babe and Ruth, my two gerbils that were both Ruths.

 

All this in only 8 days? Every species except 2!? Really incredible. Even a pit viper, close up.

 

I was looking for your dates of travel. Sorry if I got distracted by the red fox, Siberian jerboa, etc and missed it. Why did you chose this time to go?

 

Thanks for this excellent and exciting report. Soon visitors will equal citizens in Mongolia on account of this superb report.

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michael-ibk

Thank you, Antee, this was a very special report indeed. Really impressive that you saw so much, and I very much liked the format - and the photos too. Please continue to go the road less travelled and tell us all about it - go see Saiga now. :)

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Indeed, @@Antee , do keep visiting those rarely visited places, and show them to the rest of us! Looking forward to your next trip ... and report.

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douglaswise

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your report. I'm very impressed with the numbers of mammal species you were able to see in such a short time and thought your layout was excellent. My wife and I visited Mongolia some years ago and, although our trip was primarily to fish, I was a bit disappointed that we saw little wildlife. However, the empty spaces and magnificent views, combined with fantastic displays of wildflowers were truly memorable and we were lucky that one of the Mongolian fishing guides spoke excellent English so that we were able to learn a lot about the traditional way of life of the nomads and how things are changing. We visited in late May and were in Hovsgol Province in the North West. This may not have been a good wildlife area of this vast country. I think your report might stimulate a great deal of interest from wildlife enthusiasts, but one major drawback could be communication difficulties.

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Treepol

@@Antee thanks for an interesting TR.

 

I get a strong sense of miles and miles of empty space from your photos of the steppe. This is surely a great destination for the small mammals such as jerboas and gerbils and small cats.

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Page 1

 

Great choice for a remote location. Your camping shots are very artistic!

 

Nice job on the Goitered gazelle and truly excellent work on the wild asses running next to your car. Moving animals and moving vehicle make for difficult photography, but your shots are wonderful.

 

The peeking polecat is adorable. Thanks for the cropping help with the pallas cat. They may be domesticated but your camel shots are splendid. Your array of gerbil photos bring back memories of Babe and Ruth, my two gerbils that were both Ruths.

 

All this in only 8 days? Every species except 2!? Really incredible. Even a pit viper, close up.

 

I was looking for your dates of travel. Sorry if I got distracted by the red fox, Siberian jerboa, etc and missed it. Why did you chose this time to go?

 

Thanks for this excellent and exciting report. Soon visitors will equal citizens in Mongolia on account of this superb report.

My dates of travel was in mid september.

I chose this dates because it is ridiculous hot in Gobi desert during the summer. Now it was perfect.

 

I think this "not so hot"-weather was a big advantage for us to find Snow leopard and Pallas cat.

 

The backside is that it was quite cold in Hustai NP and Ikh Nart which is further north in the country. Mostly in the morning then it was fine.

Another big drawback was that Long eared Jerboa already hibernating.

 

I also like the Steppe Polecat.

It was my best spotlighting ever with 1 Snowleopard, 2 Pallas cat, 2 Steppe Polecats, 1 Red fox and 7 Siberian Ibex in a couple of hours. Amazing!

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Thank you, Antee, this was a very special report indeed. Really impressive that you saw so much, and I very much liked the format - and the photos too. Please continue to go the road less travelled and tell us all about it - go see Saiga now. :)

Hehe, Yes I missed the Saiga. Mongolia or Kazakhstan is the place for them.

 

I will definitely have more of road less travelled. Alot of plans for next year.

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Very nice report!

 

 

Indeed, @@Antee , do keep visiting those rarely visited places, and show them to the rest of us! Looking forward to your next trip ... and report.

 

 

Thanx for reading and nice comments.

Edited by Antee
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading your report. I'm very impressed with the numbers of mammal species you were able to see in such a short time and thought your layout was excellent. My wife and I visited Mongolia some years ago and, although our trip was primarily to fish, I was a bit disappointed that we saw little wildlife. However, the empty spaces and magnificent views, combined with fantastic displays of wildflowers were truly memorable and we were lucky that one of the Mongolian fishing guides spoke excellent English so that we were able to learn a lot about the traditional way of life of the nomads and how things are changing. We visited in late May and were in Hovsgol Province in the North West. This may not have been a good wildlife area of this vast country. I think your report might stimulate a great deal of interest from wildlife enthusiasts, but one major drawback could be communication difficulties.

 

North Mongolia is not the best for wildlife, correct. It´s better for fishing.

Middle and southern part is the best for wildlife. Where you have the steppe, desert and the mountains.

 

I put in alot of miles in this trip. Yes, I saw alot but I had to work for it as well :)

You surely need a good wildlife-guide who knows where to find them because it´s a HUGE vast country and much of it is an endless steppe with more or less nothing. Which is, like you said, one of the memorable things, the emptyness.

 

Thanks for reading!

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@@Antee thanks for an interesting TR.

 

I get a strong sense of miles and miles of empty space from your photos of the steppe. This is surely a great destination for the small mammals such as jerboas and gerbils and small cats.

Well, then you got it all right :)

Mongolia is the emptyness personified.

 

Thank you for reading!

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Love the Przewalski's Horses. Very cool you got to see such rare species.

 

The five toed pygmy jerboa is adorable.

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Atravelynn

Thanks for stating--or restating if I missed it--that you went in mid-Sept.

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