Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Support needed for Great Bustard Conservation Research in Mongolia

Dear Colleagues in Conservation and Central Asian Studies!

Happy New Year! May 2013 bring you happiness, exciting journeys and new discoveries!

You may have heard that I am carrying out a public fundraising appeal to support my ongoing conservation research and education program with declining populations of Mongolian Great Bustards: If you haven’t yet, please check out our appeal, in particular the 5-minute video, “Mongolian Myth Bustards!” to learn more.

My sincerest thanks to all of you who have already stepped in to help, through donations or by publicizing the campaign through your professional and personal contacts. With your help, we’ve raised 55% of the funds we need to (1) continue monitoring our tagged bustards and (2) support our team's Mongolian masters student, Natsag, through his final year of study!

We now have one week left to raise the remaining 45% ($1460). In these important final days of the campaign, I would appreciate any additional exposure you could provide for our appeal. Every contribution – whether big or small, gets us closer to our goal!

Best wishes, and I look forward to seeing all of you in 2013!
Aimee "Mimi" Kessler
* Please support our RocketHub Fundraising proposal<> *

Project Website:<>
PhD Candidate
School of Life Sciences
Graduate Programs Arizona State University
PO Box 874601 Tempe, AZ

Great Bustard Conservation in Mongolia

The Great Bustard is one of the heaviest species capable of flight. This species is considered globally Vulnerable by IUCN due to past population declines and projected declines of 30% over the next ten years. There is particular concern about Central Asian populations of Great Bustards, which have experienced sharp declines in recent times.

Mongolia plays a key role in the conservation of the Asian subspecies of Great Bustard, Otis tarda dybowskii. Only 2000 individuals of this subspecies are estimated to remain.

Our goal is to identify causes of declines and best practices for conservation of this poorly understood subspecies, which differs from the European subspecies in aspects of its natural history. We use satellite telemetry to trace migratory routes, track habitat use, and carry out longitudinal studies of individual birds to identify causes of mortality.

Our team’s research thus far (begun in 2006) has indicated that poaching, nest destruction and land-use change are key threats to the Great Bustards in Mongolia. This species is especially vulnerable to poaching as populations reliably gather in traditional spots each year for breeding. Half of the deaths of our marked birds have been due to poaching - a clear indication that poaching is an issue that should be addressed urgently in Mongolia to save this endangered species.
We engage local people in all aspects of our work and carry out programs for schoolchildren to encourage interest and pride in the conservation of this and other bird species.

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