Threats affecting the survival of the Mongolian khulan

From other researchers and teams, and from research our team conducted in our study area since 2008, main threats affecting the Mongolian Khulan's survival are:

Increasing number of livestock

An increase in number of livestock can be observed in the Gobi Desert region, which leads to an increasing competition between wild and domestic herbivores to access pastures and also water points; disturbance caused to wildlife (from our observations it appears that when domestic livestock stays at a water source, wild khulans wait in the surrounding that domestic animals leave it, and then, go to drink at the water point); and could potentially lead to a spread of diseases (from livestock to widlife or from wildlife to livestock). 

Illegal hunting and trade

Khulans are hunted for their meat, skin and also organs to be used in the traditional medicine as found during the interviews we conducted in our study area since 2008 (lungs of khulans are locally used to treat human bronchitis as khulans are believed to have a good respiratory system due to their very high endurance). Illegal hunting leads to mortality of wildlife, but also leads to disturbance of wildlife (as they can tend to avoid some places or leave the places where hunting took place) and also disrupt aggregations of Mongolian khulans, leading individuals of a same group to be temporarily or permanently separated (young can also lose sight of their mother and group). 


Habitat fragmentation

Following an increase in mining activities in the Gobi Desert, many linear infrastructures (roads and railways) have been built. Most of these infrastructures have barbed fences all along, and don't have any appropriate wildlife crossing structures included. 


Habitat fragmentation can lead to: reduced movements of nomadic and migratory species (such as the Mongolian khulan and the black-tailed gazelle); population sub-divisions as individuals are unable to move and disperse; traffic accidents and entanglements of wildlife in barbed fences. 


Habitat loss and degradation

An increase of mining activities and an increase in numbers of livestock in the Gobi Desert region are leading to habitat loss and degradation which can both cause a loss of pastures for wildlife, a lack of access to natural water points, and to pollution of soils and of water sources as well. 

Loss of pastures and a lack of access to natural water points lead to an increase competition between wildlife and livestock. Pollution and compaction of soils will decrease the quality and quantity of pastures. 

Climate change

An increased in environmental stochasticity, and most recurent extreme weather events affect the Mongolian khulan and other wildlife:


-  changes in pasture quality and distribution and water distribution. Open natural water points are becoming more scarce; 


- wildlife have to travel longer distance to find resources and adapt in some ways (see here one example of adaptation


- an increased in environmental stochasticity can impact on social structure and dynamic of wildlife as well.