Monitoring wild sheep in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – WWF is working with partner organizations in Mongolia to conserve the endangered argali, the world’s largest sheep.

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A ten-year survey in the Mongolian province of Uvs shows that argali numbers are decreasing, with as little as 380 sheep found in 12 areas throughout 800km2 of the provinces territory.

In 1975, Mongolia’s scientific authority estimated that there were 50,000 argali living throughout the country. The results of a 2001 census showed that there are no more than 13,000–15,000.

“Poaching and uncontrolled hunting are some of the main reasons for the decreasing numbers,” said Onon Yondon, a species officer with WWF Mongolia. “But there are other problems, including competition with other livestock for pasture land and water, as well as habitat encroachment and other human impacts.”

WWF is working with the Mongolian Ministry of Nature and the Environment — with support from the Mongolian Academy of Science and the Denver Zoo Foundation in the United States — to monitor agarli migration through radio collar tagging. A stationary field observatory monitoring point has also been established at Khukh Sair in the Bukhmurun district of Uvs.

“We are trying to determine the natural migration of argalis within Uvs,” said Onon. “By doing this we hope to implant better conservation measures aimed at protecting the sheep and its habitat and sustainable use.”

Since 1992, WWF Mongolia has been implementing projects and supporting the Mongolian government on the establishment of a system of large protected areas, in order to protect the country's outstanding biodiversity.

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