features: example of last
large undisturbed steppe ecosystem in the world; important
habitat for Mongolian gazelle.
Size and location: 570,000
hectares in Sukhbaatar and Dornod provinces. Established:
eastern steppes represent one of the last great unspoiled
grazing ecosystems in the world. "
-George Schaller, one of world's leading wildlife biologists
EASTERN MONGOLIA STRICTLY PROTECTED
Imagine the verdant grasslands
that covered the great plains of eastern Europe a thousand
years ago or North America two hundred years ago-a place
with few inhabitants, and no fences, roads, or livestock.
Established in part to protect habitat for the Mongolian
gazelle, the Eastern Mongolia Protected Area covers a representative
part of the last of the great plain ecosystems.
Gently rolling steppe is characteristic
of the protected area, which extends for over 200 kilometers
along the Chinese border. From the summit of Vangiin Tsagaan
Uul (White Mountain of Vangi), a sacred Buddhist peak in
the preserve, one looks out on a sea of grass that blankets
the land as far as the eye can see.
|The steppe here is dominated by the grasses
and other plants characteristic of both Dagurian and Eastern
Mongolian steppe. The preserve is surprisingly arid, with
annual precipitation of less than 250 mm. Lack of fresh surface
water keeps the land around and including the protected area
almost completely uninhabited.
The Eastern Mongolia protected
area is home to 25 species of mammal, dominated by herds
of Mongolian gazelle (see sidebar) that pass through
the protected area on their annual migrations. Wolves, corsac
and red fox, and badger all occur here. The protected area
is home to 125 species of birds, 84 of which nest here.
Birds include the endangered great bustard, a game bird
that has been hunted close to extinction. Steppe eagles,
upland buzzards, kites, and the rough-legged harrier all
nest in the reserve. Two species of amphibian, including
the endangered Asiatic grass frog, and five reptiles live
here. The protected area is only a small part of eastern
Mongolia's vast steppe. Though largely untouched today,
change is just over the horizon for these areas, as oil
exploration begins in the region and other developments,
possibly including a new railroad line, are planned. Efforts
are underway by MNE and WWF to expand this protected area
to include more of the eastern steppe.
The Eastern Mongolia Strictly Protected Area
is the settingfor one of Asia's premier wildlife spectacles.
Between 300,000 and I million gazelle, one of Asia's largest
remaining wildlife populations, inhabit the steppes Of eastern
Mongolia. During latefall, herds 40,000 strong pass through
the reserve. just 50 years ago, biologists estimate that several
million Mongolian gazelle covered the steppe of Mongolia However,
this population has dropped sharply due to habitat loss and
barriers to migration, including thefences that extend along
existing railroad lines. The Eastern Mongolia Reserve protects
only a small portion of Mongolia's pristine steppe area. The
rest, including critical berthing areas for the gazelle, is
STRICTLY PROTECTED AREA
Nomrog Strictly Protected Area covers the remote
and uninhabited far eastern tip of Mongolia. Ecologically
distinct from the rest of Mongolia, this preserve includes
the westernmost end of the Khyangan mountain range, which
extends into Mongolia from Manchuria, China. The area is
relatively wet and one-fifth of the area is forested, primarily
by small groves of Scotch pine, white birch, and willow.
zones: mountain forest steppe, steppe.
Special features: ecologically
unique; Manchurian flora and fauna found here in addition
to Central Asian species. Size and location: 311,200 hectares
in Dornod province.
diversity is high here, with 44 mammals, 234 species of birds,
24 fish, 3 reptiles, and 4 amphibian species identified. Manchurian
flora and fauna which occur nowhere else in Mongolia are found
here, including the Ussurian moose, black-naped oriole, white-breasted
rockthrush, and great black water snake. The endangered hooded
crane and Houbara bustard can be found here as can pheasant,
otter, bear, lynx, and wild boar.
zones: steppe, riparian.
Special features: part of international
reserve created by Mongolia, Russia China to protect rare
birds, particularly cranes.
Size and location: 103,000 hectares
in two parts, Dornod province.
DAGURIAN STRICTLY PROTECTED AREA
Mongol Dagurian protected area
was established to preserve a representative portion of
Mongolia's Dagurian steppe and its characteristic flora,
fauna, landscape, and endangered species. In 1994, the area
became part of an international reserve for some of the
world's rarest birds, including several endangered species
of crane. The international reserve also includes nearby
protected areas in Russia and China.
The Dagurian preserve
is divided into two parts. The larger northern part, contiguous
to Russia's Daurski Reserve, takes in the rolling steppe
and wetlands on the south shore of whitetinted Tari Lake.
The southern part of the protected area encompasses a narrow
strip of the clear, peaceful Uldz River and its pristine
wetlands, protected for their high density of nesting white-naped
cranes (Grus vipio).
|Six species of cranes visit the preserve,
including the threatened hooded and Siberian cranes, common
cranes, demoiselle cranes, and the endangered white-naped
crane. The preserve is used by 226 species of birds, many
of which are endangered, including whoopee swan, relict gull,
mandarin duck, and great bustard. Thirty-six mammal species
include the Daurian hedgehog, roe deer, Mongolian gazelle,
red fox, raccoon dog, and wolf. Amphibians include three species
of Asiatic grass frogs, while golden and Amur carp are among
the seven species of fish that occur here. More than 300 plant
species have been identified.
The preserve is uninhabited, although
local people occasionally visit to water their livestock.
Of the relatively few people living near the area, most
are Buryat livestock herders.
The Dagurian Protected Area is especially known
for its high density of nesting white-naped cranes. The Uldz
River (which flows through the southern part of the protected
area) and nearby Onon and Khukh rivers support the largest
breeding populations of white-naped cranes in the world. This
endangered species now numbers only 4,500, and many of its
breeding areas have been extensively damaged.
According to Mongolian tradition,
it is bad luck to kill or pester cranes and their nests.
Even so, cranes face pressure from domestic livestock and
dwindling habitat in areas outside the reserve.
Desert Protected Area