Species conservation | WWF

Species conservation

WWF Mongolia has prioritized under its Conservation Program species of high importance. They have been selected according to their characteristics of flagship species; their ability to represent the eco-region at best and their contribution to overall protection of ecosystem health and protection of other species sharing the same habitat and threats.

WWF Mongolia priority species include for:
Altai-Sayan Eco-region:

  • Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) ;
  • Mongolian Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica mongolica )

AHEC Eco-region:
Freshwater ecosystem

Nested targets: Taimen (Hucho taimen) as a freshwater indicator and Crane species as a umbrella species of wetlands
Migration of ungulates
Nested target: Steppe and desert steppe ungulates namely Asiatic wild ass – Khulan (Equus hemionus), Goitered Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) and Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa)

Targets and Goals

Due to the low human population density, Mongolia is one of last true wilderness areas of global significance with large areas of relatively unfragmented and intact habitats, populated with unique assemblages of charismatic and keystone species such as snow leopard and gray wolf which play a fundamental role in maintaining, functioning and stability of the ecosystem and overall landscape, and allowing natural migration of large herds of ungulates such as the as Mongolian saiga and Mongolian gazelle.
Mongolia boasts a wide variety of wildlife: 139 species of mammals; 450 species of birds (331 migratory and 119 resident within Mongolia year round); 22 species of reptiles; 6 species of amphibians; and 76 fish species.
Mongolia’s remoteness, low population density and traditional nomadic lifestyle are named as major factors for preserving high level of biodiversity.
The  unique  biodiversity  values  that  Mongolia  has  to  offer  globally  and  the  important  niche  and role WWF Mongolia has established among environmental NGOs in the country has been the main basis for defining what we will focus on over the next five years to make unique contributions to WWF Global Goals.
The  selection  of  the  specific  conservation  targets  and  the  respective  long-term  goals  were developed based on the recommendations from the independent assessment on last conservation strategic plan. Both the conservation targets and goals are fully aligned with  the WWF Network Global   Goals   and   key   Drivers   of   environmental   problems   and   WWF-Mongolia’s   Critical Contributions build the basis for setting the objectives for the next conservation strategy.
Based on the above WWF-Mongolia has selected five conservation targets in the two ecoregions: Boreal coniferous forest ecosystem; Freshwater ecosystem; two GPF priority species namely Snow leopard  (Panthera  uncia)  and  Mongolian  Saiga  (Saiga  tatarica  mongolica);  and  Migration  of ungulates, as an important ecological process.

Snow leopard Sky
© WWF Mongolia

Snow leopards have been fitted with tracking collars enabling to learn about their movement

It is indeed a not easy task to catch elusive snow leopards leading secretive lives for the purpose of fitting them with tracking collars. However, the task has been fulfilled by the WWF-Mongolia thus contributing greatly to the study of the species. The research expedition that has worked for the duration of 14 days, covering period from 27 April till the end of 12 May, 2013 included biologists, assistant doctor to put to sleep and rehabilitate the animal, an experienced local hunter and specialists from the WWF-Mongolia. The aim was to catch two snow leopards from the  Jargaltkhairkhan mountain of Khar-Us Lake NP and put satellite collars around their neck. The team members were confident that they would accomplish their task successfully given their unsuccessful efforts to do so few months earlier by catching the animal using traps. However, this time they put better traps totally at 11 different spots and double monitored them by installing automatic cameras. As O.Munkhtogtokh, head of the research team said, totally 6 snow leopards have arrived at the trap sites and one of them was caught in the trap. Initially, calming injection then sleeping injection were shot by the special gun. After putting to sleep, the measurements of the female leopard, aged 4-5 were taken revealing its weight being at 39.5kg and being pregnant. This snow leopard was then given name of Tenger, which means “the Sky”, the name given by Ms.Yo.Onon, the former WWF staff who initiated this work couple of years ago. After 2 hours 17 minutes from sleeping injection the animal started to crawl and soon left the site. This was, in fact, the first ever fitting of satellite collar on the snow leopard in the Altai- Sayan ecoregion, Mongolian part. Biologists believe that by fitting satellite collar on elusive snow leopard will enable researchers to identify the overall distance and time laps covered by the animal to inform further the snow leopard protection work more accurately to achieve better conservation results.