Cinereous Vulture Research and Conservation

Mongolia supports the largest wild population of Cinereous Vultures (Aegypius monachus) in the world. They occur throughout Mongolia, whilst the species is endangered throughout the rest of its global distribution range.

With the support of the Peregrine Fund, which is a USA non-profit organization dedicated to conserve birds of prey in nature, we established a comprehensive research and conservation program for Cinereous Vulture in Mongolia. The program includes studies of nesting habitat requirement, food availability, survival, feeding habit, nestling growth, home range, foraging patterns, and migration.

A vulture monitoring site has been set up in Erdenesant in central Mongolia. Four adult cinereous vultures have been satellite tagged with the support from Wildlife Conservation Society and the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, and many more vultures wing tagged since the beginning of research program in 2002.

Although there are plenty of nesting sites of the Cinereous Vultures in Mongolia, these are very much connected to the location of nomad herders’ livestock in most of the country. There are also threats of shooting and poisoning in some parts of Mongolia.

Every year more than a thousand young vultures migrate to Korean peninsula for wintering where they encounter starvation, electrocution, poisoning, and shooting. We are working with ornithologists and birdwatchers in both Korea and Mongolia to safeguard their wintering environment with the support from the Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea and the Ministry of Nature, Environment, and Tourism of Mongolia.

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Saker Falcon Research and Conservation

Another significant project currently under implementation is the Research and Conservation of Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Mongolia.

The populations of Saker Falcons in Central Asia are under severe threat for a number of years from illegal harvesting and trapping for falconry use in Middle East. Mongolia remains one of the countries supporting a significant population of Saker Falcons although there are many threats to this population which still exist. The main objective of our research activities in Mongolia is to monitor the wild population and develop a science-based model for sustainable harvesting of wild Saker Falcons using artificial nest sites as a means of increasing breeding productivity in nest-site limited habitats.

On this project we are partnering with the International Wildlife Consultants Ltd from UK under a research agreement signed between Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi, UAE and the Ministry of Nature and Environment of Mongolia on 25th November 2007.

Previous studies documented that in nest-site limited regions there is an existing non-breeding population of adult Saker Falcons. These non-breeders can be encouraged to breed by providing artificial nests, and so increase the size of the breeding population in these areas.

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Important Bird Areas Conservation

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are internationally important areas for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity. They are identified using objective, internationally accepted, criteria and are used to guide conservation planning, action and sustainable development. As well as their importance for biodiversity, IBAs provide a range of ecosystem goods and services important to human communities, and provide a focus for birdwatching, wildlife photography and other recreational activities.

A total of 70 IBAs have been identified in Mongolia, covering a total area of 7,906,557 ha or 5% of the national land area. Each of these sites meets one or more of the global IBA criteria developed by the BirdLife Partnership.

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Raptor conservation

Mongolia is heaven for birds of prey. The intact steppe, forest, and mountains provide ample food, safe shelter and nesting places for birds of prey. There are several globally threatened raptors such as Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), Pallid Harrier (Circus macrorus), and Pallas’ Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) in Mongolia.

WSCC are training Mongolian young biologists in ecological research methods and techniques to strengthen the local capacity. In this respect, we support and help them to obtain their undergraduate diploma and graduate degree from Mongolian universities by facilitating their involvement in our projects and use our research data.

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Environmental Education

Public understanding of wildlife population and habitat is one of the critical outputs for any conservation efforts. A study has shown that the level of knowledge and the attitudes toward large raptors in rural populations in Mongolia are poor and vary in different sex and age groupsand in different regions. Therefore WSCC have identified the need for extensive environmental educational efforts.

Our objective is to educate citizens and nomad herders about the benefits of nature and conservation through helping them to obtain necessary information and engaging them vigorously in research and conservation activities. WSCC focuses on working collectively on a small scale to affect larger problems and if necessary to carry out larger campaigns.

WSCC has established the Mongolian Bird Watching Club in order to increase public awareness in bird conservation and encourage them to get directly involved in conservation activities. The Center is supporting the Club with logistics, binoculars, telescopes, and bird books etc. The Club is first of its kind in Ulaanbaatar and WSCC is working actively to organize field bird watching trips and lectures on birds.

Daily activities of the MBWC is independently run by club members and they have own web blog where they post their trip reports and observations. Click here to visit the MBWC webblog.

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Saker Falcon and Houbara Bustard in Gobi

Galba Gobi is a desert landscape with sparsely vegetated rolling hills, flat open desert, sand dunes, Saxaul stands and dry river beds with elm trees and it was chosen as an Important Bird Area in the Mongolian Gobi. It stretches between and partly overlaps with the Small Gobi A and Small Gobi B Special Protected Areas and covers an area of 828,328 ha.

WSCC and BirdLife International teamed up to identify potential impacts of developments in infrastructure, transportation and mining on two globally threatened species, Saker Falcon and Houbara Bustard, in the Galba Gobi IBA.

The project is co-funded by the World Bank (Netherlands-Mongolia Trust Fund for Environmental Reform - NEMO) and BirdLife (the Rio Tinto - BirdLife International Programme) and is supported by the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Mongolia.

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Conservation of Dalmatian Pelican

Mongolia is a critically important country for the East Asian subpopulation of Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus with the Great Lakes Basin of western Mongolia the sole breeding location for this endangered subpopulation.

We aim to promote the population recovery by ensuring the survival of the last remaining breeding pairs and protecting their habitat through developing sustainable use of wetland areas and harmony between pelicans and nomads that share the same wetlands.

Main threats to Dalmatian Pelicans, the largest of eight pelican species on Earth, are degradation of nesting habitats and disturbance at nest sites, and shooting for their beaks by herders in western Mongolia. Especially habitat degradation by livestock is a major threat to the Great Lakes Basin islands where the pelicans breed.

We are working on developing a plan for effective research and the necessary conservation actions to sustain this critically endangered species.

Find out more information on this species and our activities from project report "Conservation of Critically Endangered Eastern Subpopulation of Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelicanus crispus) in Western Mongolia". The project was funded by the Oriental Bird Club (UK) and Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation (UK).

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© 2010 WSCC
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