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work now are quite remote – requiring a two

likely to be more mortali es due to collisions

to three-day overland trip from the capital. .

with power lines. Given the large role human

The bustard popula ons here are the

ac vi es appear to play in the decline of

healthiest we have found in Mongolia with

these popula ons, our team places an

leks containing about 40 birds. However, the

emphasis on interac on with the community

current extension of the road network under

and carries out programs encouraging pride

the Millenium Road Plan will allow quicker

in this charisma c species. We organise

access to these and many other sites. Outside

educa onal games and fieldtrips for local

of the capital city, Mongolia remains a

schoolchildren, give presenta ons to adults,

primarily nomadic culture. People live in

have wri en and distributed curricula for

tradi onal gers, be er known in English as

schoolteachers, and par cipate in radio

‘yurts’, and herd their livestock – horses,

programs. Our team (with the excep on of

cows, goats, sheep and camels –through four

myself!) is composed en rely of local people.

seasonal pastures. The tradi onal diet is that

We encourage local residents to join us in

of a nomadic herding culture, based on meat

research ac vi es, and there is rarely a day

Mimi spearheaded the Central Asian Great

and milk products. Though Mongolians

when there isn’t someone from the

Bustard Project as a disserta on project.

prefer red meat an excep on is some mes

community alongside us in our research

This ambi ous work has been supported

made for bustard meat: thus the tradi onal

cabin or van. We engage in a two-way

with funding from a number of

saying, “toodognii mah togoo duurene!” or

exchange of informa on with local people,

conserva on organiza ons, including the

“bustard meat will fill the ke le!” The

who share informa on about these

Disney Worldwide Conserva on Fund,

nomadic lifestyle is typically compa ble with

difficult-to-locate birds with the team. To

Rufford Small Grants for Nature

the habits of Great Bustards. These birds are

reach an audience beyond our immediate

Conserva on, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo,

incredibly wary – preferring to keep a 500 m

research area, our team is fundraising for a

and American Museum of Natural History

to 1 km distance from humans. The absence

short documentary on these popula ons of


of humans from one-half to three-quarters of

Great Bustard to be aired on Mongolian

sponsors Celestron, Inc. and Microwave

the landscape at any me (for example, on

television. We believe that educa ng people

Telemetry have provided in-kind dona ons.

winter pastures during summer), means that

about this species’ vulnerable status and low

She has also received a US Na onal Science

Great Bustards have extensive areas to roam

popula on replacement rate will change

Founda on Graduate Research Fellowship,

without much interference from humans.

people’s a tude towards this magnificent

an US NSEP Boren Graduate Fellowship,

Agriculture is carried out at a low intensity


Wildlife Conserva on Society Graduate

‘Dybowski’s Great Bustard takes flight, Mongolia © Byung-Sun Chun/WSCC of Mongolia




and without pes cides for now. As in Europe,

Research Fellowship, and IREX IARO

there appears to be a problem with loss of

Fellowship to support this work. The

eggs and chicks due to the ac vity of farm

project s ll requires funding though, and

machinery as well as to foxes and crows.

anyone willing to contribute will find

Trampling of nests by livestock may also be a

details on the Project’s website.

problem. Overhead cabling is currently

Learn more about our work at our website,

minimal, but as Mongolia develops there are


Otis Summer 2010  

Otis Magazine, the official Great Bustard Group magazine.

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