250,000 gazelles in Mongolia

This video from Russia says about itself:

Border guards have been working non-stop to help thousands of trapped gazelles cross into Russia from Mongolia. Severe drought has forced the animals to migrate north. Wildlife enthusiasts are hopeful the influx will be a boost to Russia’s dying Gazelle population.

From the BBC:

Largest herd of gazelles sighted

Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

A mega-herd of a quarter of a million Mongolian gazelles has been seen gathering on the country’s steppes, one of the world’s last great wildernesses.

The coming together on the grassy plains is the largest ever recorded.

The biologists who saw it estimate it contained perhaps a quarter of all Mongolian gazelles on the planet.

“It was stunning,” says Kirk Olson of the University of Massachusetts, US. “I don’t know if I was surprised or simply blown away by what we came across.”

Olson and colleagues based in the US and Mongolia have published details of the epic gathering in the journal Oryx.

In September 2007, Olson’s team were driving across the eastern Mongolian steppes studying the habitat of the Mongolian gazelle, one of the last nomadic ungulates to survive in large numbers.

Together with scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, they had been capturing gazelles and fitting them with GPS collars to track their movements, trying to work out where they travel and why.

As they drove east they began to encounter herds of a couple of thousand individuals.

“Groups of this size are impressive and beautiful to see,” describes Olson. Then the following day, at about midday, they drove to a hillside offering a great view of what appeared to be one such herd.

“But it was really one edge of a group that ended up being over 250,000 by one estimate.

“We were simply amazed at the sight. The image I have in my mind of seeing this massive aggregation of gazelles will always be etched into my memory.”

Mongolian gazelles are known to gather in large herds. Groups containing 10,000 animals or more are often reported, while the largest herd previously known numbered 80,000. …

Hunting has already decimated populations of the saiga antelope and the kulan, also known as the Mongolian wild ass. Olson hopes that conservationists will increase their efforts to protect the gazelles, before their huge herds are also reduced.

Mountains, roads and railways: a natural barrier to survival for Mongolia’s wild asses: here.

Critically endangered Saiga antelope vital for preservation of world’s largest grasslands: here.

Betty White fund helps rare saiga antelope suffering from 95% decline in 20 years: here.

Mass mortality among saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan: 12,000 dead: here.

Few species have fallen so far and so fast in the past 15 years as Central Asia’s antelope, the saiga. Its precipitous decline is reminiscent of the bison or the passenger pigeon in 19th Century America, but conservationists hopes it avoids the fate of the latter: here.

12,000 critically endangered Saiga antelope found dead in Kazakhstan: here.

3 thoughts on “250,000 gazelles in Mongolia

  1. Trapped by fence: gazelles starve to death in Saudi Arabia

    29/07/2010 22:51:39

    Emergency plans now in operation

    July 2010: A fence may have been starving gazelles and other ungulates to death in Saudi Arabia, according to the latest research.

    Die-offs of large numbers of globally threatened Arabian oryx and Arabian sand gazelles were recorded from 1991 to 2008 in the fenced Mahazat as-Sayd protected area in Saudi Arabia. Researchers found that most deaths occurred during the summer, when rainfall was negligible. The animals starved to death because of the reduced availability, accessibility and quality of food plants in the area.

    Grazing of Arabian oryx habitat depends on rainfall and animals move over great distance in response to rain. However, the fence around the protected area at Mahazat as-Sayd prevents the natural movement of animals and artificially concentrates animals into what may be an unfavourable habitat.

    The sand gazelle is a highly gregarious and migratory species, moving long distances in search of a good quality pastures – in central Asia they are known to cover several hundreds of kilometers. Researchers believe that it is, therefore, likely that fences such as the one around Mahazat as-Sayd protected area are exacerbating the effects of drought.

    In an attempt to reduce the catastrophic effects, a strategy and action plan has since been developed to manage the oryx and gazelle within the reserve, providing food and water at five camps as an emergency plan to minimise mortalities.



  2. Pingback: Serengeti wildebeest, zebra migration, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Forests, tree-dwelling birds extinct with dinosaurs | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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