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Catching camels in the Gobi
Date:11/11/2011

The range of the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) has been reduced to only three locations world-wide: two in China (Lop Nuur and Taklamakan desert) and one in Mongolia (Great Gobi A Specially Protected Area). The Great Gobi Protected Area was established in 1975 to protect a unique desert environment that is home to several rare or globally threatened mammal species, such as the wild Bactrian camel, the Gobi bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis), the snow leopard (Uncia uncia), the argali wild sheep (Ovis ammon) and the Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus). However, habitat deterioration due to increasing human demand for livestock pastures and water resources, illegal hunting, and recently also a marked increase in illegal placer mining (mining valuable minerals by washing or dredging activities) in the protected area region have become a conservation concern. "Increasing incidences of resource extraction in the area seriously jeopardize the integral protection of the camels and other species habitat," says Chris Walzer, a senior veterinary scientist at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) of the Veterinary Science University, Vienna, who has a long-standing landscape-level commitment to conservation research in the Gobi.

The wild Bactrian camel is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered. About 600 animals are estimated to remain in China and between 350 and 1,950 in the Great Gobi A protected area in Mongolia. It is difficult to estimate population size more precisely because of the remoteness and large size of the area, compounded by the inherent difficulty of estimating population size for low density "clumped" populations. There are large knowledge gaps relating to the movement patterns, habitat use, behaviour, ecology, population dynamics, and veterinary aspects of wild camels. One tool for finding out more about where they go and how they use their habita
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Contact: Prof Chris Walzer
chris.walzer@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-148-909-15180
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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