29 December 2017

New Roads …

There's a Mongolian proverb:

'If you're afraid don't start and once you start, don't be afraid.'

That's great Jess, why are you writing about it?

Some of you have been with me loyally since Day One. When, having worked in Mongolia for four years as a tour leader/guide, my driver (Turuu) persuaded me to start our own business. So I did.

We had no knowledge or real experience of business. We just knew we genuinely loved Mongolia. And, as the proverb says, once we had started we had to be brave and not be afraid. There was a lot of bootstrapping (to use a buzz word).

So for those of you that have been with me as I learnt how to set up a blog and tentatively wrote my first post and as I slowly created our first website - thank you.

It's been a long time coming but I have now upgraded and combined the EL website and blog together. We're still online. We're still on Facebook and Twitter. We're still living and working in Mongolia. We're still Eternal Landscapes Mongolia. 

If you've enjoyed being part of the Eternal Landscapes 'manaikhan' (family) on this Blogger site then please take the time to pop over and continue to follow us on our Wordpress site - https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-travel-blog. Let's continue the journey together.

And of course, if you're ever looking for an experience in Mongolia, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

Та бүхэнд баярлалаа - Thank you all.

Jess x

10 December 2017

The Lost Khulan In The Gobi

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?

It's delightful.

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.

1 December 2017

Downtime In The Gobi

Because sometimes you just have to take time out

Ever wondered what the EL team do in Mongolia when they have a short work break? Well, here's your answer! 

Look on the Eternal Landscapes Mongolia website and you’ll see we’re a micro business that call ourselves ‘manaikhan - which translates into - ours / our people/family.  It might sound like slick management speak but it’s not. We look for and invest in ways for the EL  manaikhan to come together in the quieter months. And here's how the most recent downtime weekend of my EL team was spent.

Location? The middle Gobi.

Furthest distance travelled? By Baurjan - our Kazakh fixer. He's from Ulgii - the provinical capital of Bayan Ulgii Aimag in western Mongolia. That's approximately 1668km from Ulgii to UB and then 280km from UB to Erdenedalai. Here he is ... blue fleece in the centre. Still smiling even after the most epic of road trips.

Activities? Tug of war. Wild picnics. Volleyball. Photo shoots. Lots of photo shoots.

More photo shoots ...

Guests came too ...

'We really loved our stay in Erdenedalai and being able to join the whole team of EL during their end of season party. This was such a privilege to be able to be there with them!' 
Preferred vehicle of choice? Our beloved 4x4 Russian Furgon vans of course. They took pride of place in the photo shoots. Did I mention the photo shoots?

Included meals?

Boordog (barbecued marmot), khorkhog (barbecued goat), suutei tsai (milk tea) and a lot of airag (mare's milk). Here they are mid-song ... accompanied by airag and joined by locals from the community.

And although not quite all could make it, here's the almost complete EL manaikhan on their most recent weekend away. Recognise anyone?

Next up? That will be the EL Christmas party. What can you expect? More photo shoots. If you're interested in keeping up with what we get up to then as well as our blog (thank you for visiting) you can always sign up to my newsletter dedicated to Mongolia on the news page of the Eternal Landscapes website. I look forward to seeing you there.