Planned Sites in Mongolia
The capitol of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, is located in the Tuul river valley in central Mongolia.
Altanbulag, located south of Ulaanbaatar, is the primary research site for the Pallas’ Cat Conservation Project. The Pallas’ cat, Otocolobus manul, is a predator specialized to live in the steppe and mountainous regions of central Asia. Its greatest populations are found in Mongolia. A thick coat of shaggy fur and a long, bushy tail help combat the extreme temperatures of the steppe. The elusive Pallas’ cat is difficult to observe in the wild due to its excellent camouflage, its surprisingly large home ranges, and its scarcity. An ongoing study in Mongolia, supported by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (CZBG), is using radio telemetry to measure range sizes of wild Pallas’ cats.
Research at the CZBG’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife and the National Zoological Park established that Pallas’ cats have a pronounced reproductive seasonality controlled by light exposure and that newborns are extremely susceptible to infection with a parasite called Toxoplasma. Improved reproductive and disease management based on these findings has enabled the captive population to grow and stabilize.
The Pallas Cat Conservation Project (PCCP) research site is a remote location with only basic amenities; students will get a real taste of the life of a field researcher. During the few days the course will be staying at the PCCP site, students will probably sleep in sleeping bags (bring your own) on the floor in gers, the traditional circular homes of Mongolian nomads. Clean water for basic needs, such as drinking and washing hands and face, will be available on site; it is possible that camp showers consisting of an insulated bag designed to warm water by solar energy will be available. Toilets will be of the outhouse variety. Note: other sites in Mongolia and other Earth Expedition locations — will not be as “bare bones.”
Hustai National Park
Hustai National Park, located approximately 100 km southwest of Ulaanbaatar, was chosen as an optimal location for the reintroduction of Przewalski’s horse (takhi). Between 1992 and 2000, a total of 84 takhi from zoos around the world were released in Hustai. The wild horses have flourished; now more than 190 freely roam the park along with red deer, wild boar, white-tailed gazelles, wolves, lynx, marmots, and long-tailed hamsters. The park is also home to 172 species of birds such as the steppe eagle, great bustard, demoiselle crane, and cinereous vulture.
(Course locations are subject to change.)