A wonderful concept – a book written with children in mind to help educate about the protection and conservation of one of Mongolia’s key wildlife species
First up. What is a khulan?
‘Khulan’ is the Mongolian name of the Mongolian wild donkey which is one of the 5 sub-species of the Asiatic wild donkey. The Asiatic wild donkey belongs to the Equidae family (that also includes all species of zebra, domestic horse and donkey, African wild donkey, the Tibetan Kiang and the Przewalski’s horse) but it is still not well known internationally even though this species is endangered. The Mongolian khulan is internationally and locally protected. And Mongolia is a significant place for the conservation of this species.
However, the population of the Mongolian Khulan is at risk due to illegal hunting, habitat fragmentation and competition with domestic livestock to access to natural resources – Khulan numbers have declined significantly in the past. It seems that now the population is stable but still needs to be regularly monitored. Internationally, the Mongolian Khulan is listed in the Red List of the IUCN as ‘Near threatened’ (but was listed as ‘Endangered’ from 2008 to 2015), and ‘Very Rare’ in the Mongolian Red Book (Mongolian Red List of Mammals).
And why the book?
Environmental safeguarding and protection are taking place at a grass-roots level in Mongolia, and the Association Goviin Khulan Non-Governmental Organisation is at the forefront of this grassroots approach – working to protect the khulan and its natural habitat. This NGO practice interactive people-centred conservation – a multidisciplinary and innovative approach that takes into consideration the needs, difficulties, and culture of the local area, focuses on the local knowledge available and directly involves the regional population of the southeast Gobi (both protected area rangers and the local communities – mainly in Dorngobi Aimag).
The NGO also understands that the long-term success of a conservation project of an endangered species requires educating the local population. As part of their educational programme, the Association Goviin Khulan have written and published a conservation-based book The Lost Khulan of The Gobi with illustrations by talented Mongolian artist Zolbootulguldur O. The funds of this book go back into conservation education carried out by the organisation in Mongolia and the book is being used to help promote awareness of the issues surrounding the Mongolian Khulan.
And the story?
The story takes place in the Mongolian Gobi Desert, where two children, Tuya and Javkhlan, found a lost baby khulan … How can they help their new friend to get back home?
It’s a bilingual book so can be read by both Mongolian and international children. And after the story there’s a chapter with some scientific facts about the Mongolian khulan and another chapter with advice on how to help protect this threatened species and its habitat.
And is it a success?
Having spoken to Anne Camille about this, the answer is a YES!
It’s been used by the Wildlife Conservation Society Mongolia and Говийн бага дархан цаазат газар (which is one of Association Goviin Khulan’s local partners) during a local awareness day arranged in the Khanbogd community in the south-east Gobi. It is also part of the ‘nature education trunk’ to the region of Khanbogd and Sainshand.
Copies of the book have been donated to families who are involved in the khulan conservation program, to staff of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area ‘B’ as well as local school children at a school where the English teacher of this school invited AGK to do a presentation about the Mongolian khulan to the students.
It’s a delightful story. The illustrations are beautiful. And it’s all for a good cause – one that we support. For more information on the book and how to purchase it, go to The Lost Khulan In The Gobi FB page.
For more on how we work with Association Goviin Khulan and details on the conservation and research trip we run in alliance with them, discover more on our Mongolia Conservation tours page on the Eternal Landscapes website.