The Gun Galuut Nature Reserve in Mongolia may only be 130km from Ulaanbaatar – Mongolia’s capital city – and it may also be small – only covering an area of 200 km² – but what surprises most is the diversity of its ecosystems.
The Tsengiin Burd wetland, Kherlen River, and Ikh-Gun and Ayaga lakes are all located within Gun Galuut’s mountain and steppe environment and provide a varied habitat for a variety of wildlife including some of the world’s most rare and endangered species.
The Gun Galuut Nature Reserve is one of Mongolia’s Local Protected Areas. Whereas areas with national level protection are permanently safeguarded, local protected-area designations eventually expire, but they prevent mining leases on the land while valid. Today, many of these designations last for an average of 20 years. (The Nature Conservancy)
The significant biodiversity of the area has led to the formation of The Gun-Galuut Nature Conservation Centre (GGNCC) – founded by Mongolian NGO, the Saraana Nature Conservation Foundation (SNCF). The overall aim of the Gun-Galuut Nature Conservation Centre is to conduct surveys focusing on biodiversity, habitat and breeding, educate the local population – especially the younger generation – in local environmental and ecological education, and to develop and promote nature-friendly sustainable tourism.
Mount Baits at Gun Galuut is a natural habitat of the globally endangered Argali wild mountain sheep. The Argali are the largest wild sheep in the world with characteristic large, curled horns. This species graze on grasses, herbs and sedges and migrates from high mountain habitats in the summer months (in search of fresh pasture) to lower elevations during winter. Argali inhabit mountains, steppe valleys, and rocky outcrops – mostly areas of alpine grassland.
The Ayaga Wetland is the natural habitat of the endangered White Naped Crane. Within Mongolia, White Naped Cranes breed in the north east (other breeding grounds include northeastern China and southeastern Russia) in habitats such as shallow wetlands and wet meadows in broad river valleys, along lake edges and in lowland steppe or mixed forest-steppe areas. They nest, roost and feed in shallow wetlands and along wetland edges, foraging in adjacent grasslands. White Naped Cranes can often be found in the company of other crane species that also occur within their range including Demoiselle Cranes.
For any of our visits to Gun Galuut, we work in partnership with the GGNCC – helping to provide support to this community-based organisation which is focusing on the protection of this ecologically important area with genuine sustainable practices and conservation efforts that deliver a positive impact.
For more on how you can visit this special region where the vast steppes are mirrored by the sky, take a look at our Mongolia Nature Journeys.
Jess @Eternal Landscapes