Set amid the sweeping grassland and semi-desert steppe of eastern Mongolia, the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve is a modest (163,000-acre) protected area with a remarkable wildlife population that includes endangered Argali sheep as well as more common but no less dramatic species: Siberian ibex, grey wolf, Eurasian lynx, golden and steppe eagle—not to mention the largest vulture and the smallest hamster in the world.
Established in 1996, Ikh Nart, a five-hour drive or train ride southeast of Ulaanbataar, is unfenced, open to visitors year-round, and has no entrance fee or even a headquarters. Travelers can tent on their own or stay in one of a couple of organized ger camps. In part because of this openness, poaching (for both meat and furs) and illegal mining (for amethyst quartz) remain challenging threats for the reserve’s small ranger force, in operation since 2006.
We were introduced to Ikh Nart by ConserVentures supporter and advisor Al Walter, who visited the reserve with a group put together by the Friends of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California—the sister park of Ikh Nart. The Mongolian park’s rangers, like so many such groups, are chronically underfunded and short of equipment.
We’re working with Al Walter and Mark Jorgensen, the former director of Anza-Borrego, to determine critical needs for the rangers, and to arrange a trip—possibly led by Al in 2012—to visit the park and deliver the equipment.
We’d like to start moving right away on this project. Here are a few items needed immediately.
For the rangers:
Rechargeable AA batteries
New wool socks
Handheld GPS units
Down or Gore-Tex jackets
For community school teachers and students:
For neighboring nomads:
Inexpensive reading glasses, 1.25 to 2.5 x