Over the past years our research work was focused on studying:
- the ecology and behavior of the Mongolian khulan, this species use of water sources, and its social structure,
- the nature of interactions between khulans, other wildlife, livestock, and human activities (including at water sources),
- the nature of threats affecting this species' survival.
We also collected information from members of the local community of our study area about the local knowledge on the Mongolian khulan and about the local community's perception of this species.
We collected many data about water points use by Mongolian khulans and other species.
We were also first learned from the local community's members that Mongolian khulans dig holes at water sources to access to underground water and drink from these water holes. We later investigated more about this behavior and collected many images and videos (including from camera traps) showing Mongolian khulans digging water holes at dry water sources to access to underground water, but more importandly also showing other species (wild and domestic) using these water holes to drink. You can read more about the Mongolian khulan as an engineer species helping other Gobi species to access to water here.
Video of Mongolian wild asses/Mongolian khulans, drinking in early morning (05:13 a.m) at watering holes made by some khulans at a dry river bed to access to water located underground.
This video has been captured by a trail camera in July 2012. The original video duration is 60'.
Over the coming years we are planning to continue our research on the previously studied topics, with a focus on : behavioral ecology of the Mongolian khulan, use of water sources by Gobi wildlife and livestock, and threats affecting the Mongolian khulan.
But we are also planning to extend our reseach to all Gobi wildlife, and some aspects of our research program will be conducted as part of our citizen conservation program in partnership with protected areas and the local community of our study area.
Our research team use trail cameras / camera traps as a non-invasive method (in order to limit any negative impact and human distrubance on wildlife), with the objectives to enhance knowledge on the following topics:
- use of water sources by Mongolian khulans/wild asses and by other species (wild and domestic),
- watering behavior of the Mongolian Khulan,
- nature of interactions between khulans/wild asses, wild and domestic fauna and human activities at and in the surroundings of water sources,
- illegal activities occuring in our study area,
- biodiversity of our study area.
These camera traps are used by our research team as well as by the Little Gobi A and B protected areas' administration to whom we gave some trail cameras in 2012, and by some of our citizen conservationists.
During the previous field trips we have found some strategic places where we could again settle our camera traps in the near future. These camera traps will allow us to collect very important and reliable information that will be used as part of our program to protect the endangered Mongolian Khulan, Gobi wildlife and their habitat.
In the near future we are planning to:
1) get further trail cameras that we will set up in different strategic places of our study area;
2) leave our trail cameras in our study area all over the year. By setting up several trail cameras in several places of our study area all over the year, it will help us collect a high number of important and reliable data essential for our conservation program, and will help reinforce the involvement of rangers and citizen conservationists in our research and conservation program.