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Ransom J.I.,U.S. Geological Survey | Kaczensky P.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Lubow B.C.,Colorado State University | Ganbaatar O.,Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

Accurately estimating abundance of wildlife is critical for establishing effective conservation and management strategies. Aerial methodologies for estimating abundance are common in developed countries, but they are often impractical for remote areas of developing countries where many of the world's endangered and threatened fauna exist. The alternative terrestrial methodologies can be constrained by limitations on access, technology, and human resources, and have rarely been comprehensively conducted for large terrestrial mammals at landscape scales. We attempted to overcome these problems by incorporating local peoples into a simultaneous point count of Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) and goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) across the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, Mongolia. Paired observers collected abundance and covariate metrics at 50 observation points and we estimated population sizes using distance sampling theory, but also assessed individual observer error to examine potential bias introduced by the large number of minimally trained observers. We estimated 5671 (95% CI=3611-8907) wild asses and 5909 (95% CI=3762-9279) gazelle inhabited the 11,027km 2 study area at the time of our survey and found that the methodology developed was robust at absorbing the logistical challenges and wide range of observer abilities. This initiative serves as a functional model for estimating terrestrial wildlife abundance while integrating local people into scientific and conservation projects. This, in turn, creates vested interest in conservation by the people who are most influential in, and most affected by, the outcomes. © 2012.


Kaczensky P.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Ganbaatar O.,Great Gobi B Strictly Protect Area | Ganbaatar O.,National University of Mongolia | Altansukh N.,Great Gobi B Strictly Protect Area | And 2 more authors.
Open Ecology Journal | Year: 2015

Central Asian remote rangelands are home to several charismatic, rare and far ranging ungulates which are increasingly becoming under pressure from human encroachment. Population monitoring is challenging due to the vast expanse of the species ranges, tight budgets and limited availability of suitable fixed winged-aircraft. Consequently, many current population estimates are based on pragmatically designed ground-bound transect surveys. Although, ample literature exists on how to design surveys in an ideal world, little effort has been made to demonstrate the potential and limitations of a time-series of ground-bound transect surveys under real world constrains. Since 2003 we have been monitoring the two sympatric steppe ungulates, Asiatic wild ass (“khulan”, Equus hemionus) and goitered gazelles (“gazelle”, Gazella gutturosa), in the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area in south-western Mongolia using ground-bound line transects. Both species showed clear species-specific seasonal variation in group sizes which seem related to birthing and mating periods. Data on annual recruitment were impeded by the long flight distances and the difficulty to reliably identify and count young of the year. Distribution of khulans and gazelles showed clear speciesspecific seasonal patterns and highlighted the importance of two oasis complexes. Population estimates of 33 surveys covering 10,383 km² were highly variable even between consecutive surveys and had huge 95% confidence intervals (khulan: range: 1,707 to 45,040, gazelles: range: 2,564 to 10,766) making them unsuitable to obtain robust baseline population estimates. Although our individual surveys were poor measures of population abundance, they provided important data on group sizes and species distribution and are presently used for Bayesian hierarchical trend modelling and species specific habitat suitability analysis. The ground surveys are relatively inexpensive as compared to aerial surveys and thus can be conducted at short temporal intervals, engaging park staff and researchers with local people thereby helping mutual understanding, information transfer, and detection of illegal activities. © Kaczensky et al.


Painer J.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Kaczensky P.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Kaczensky P.,International Takhi Group | Ganbaatar O.,International Takhi Group | And 4 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2011

The Przewalski's horse (Equus caballus przewalskii) became extinct in the wild during the 1960s. Based on a successful captive breeding program, Przewalski's horses were reintroduced to the Great Gobi Part "B" strictly protected area (SPA) in SW Mongolia in the late 1990s. The Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus hemionus), Przewalski's horse, and sometimes domestic horses live sympatricly in the Gobi B SPA. Previously published data demonstrates that, as a result of their different requirements and utilization of the park's resources, their home-range size and social structure differ. Parasitological examinations in the three equid species show how the factors "home range, social structure, and resource selection" significantly impact parasitic burden. Asiatic wild asses are potentially exposed to a higher risk of parasite re-infection due to their temporal aggregation in very large groups. This study demonstrates a highly significant greater parasite load in the Asiatic wild ass for the majority of parasites evaluated (Dictyocaulus arnfieldi, Trichostrongylus axei, Strongyloides westeri, Parascaris equorum) compared to Przewalski's horses and domestic horses in the same habitat. Domestic horses had higher parasite loads for eggs of strongylids, eggs of anoplocephalidae, and Eimeria leuckarti. The potential risk of cross infection between sympatric living equids is high, as is the cross infection between ruminants and equids. Furthermore, this study reports for the first time the occurrence of lungworms in free-ranging Przewalski's horses. Whereas, Asiatic wild asses and Przewalski's horses seem to cope very well with the sometimes high parasite burden, Mongolian domestic horses manifested typical parasite burden symptoms. © 2010 The Author(s).


The Przewalskis horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) became extinct in the wild in the 1960s, but survived as a species due to captive breeding. There have been several initiatives to re-introduce the species in central Asia, but until now only two projects in Mongolia establish free-ranging populations. Data on basic ecology and behavior of the species prior to extinction is largely lacking and a good documentation of the re-introduction process is essential. Between 13 May and 2 September 2003 we documented the time budget-, group synchrony and body score development of a newly released Przewalskis horse group in the Gobi area of SW Mongolia.Contrary to our expectations, the newly released Przewalskis horses did not show the expected succession of an exploration-, acclimatization-, and established phase. Grazing activity was very high after the release, decreased to a minimum in July and increased again towards the end of the study in September. Resting activity followed the opposite trend, whereas moving activity was more or less constant over the entire observation period. Behavioral synchronization of the group was high throughout the study period and immigration or emigration of members did not result in a de-synchronization of the group. The body score index never dropped, but rather increased for all group members.Our data suggests that captive bred Przewalskis horses experience little behavioral and nutritional stress when being released into the desert steppe of the Gobi regions after one year in an adaptation enclosure.

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