Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Dornogobi Aimag, Mongolia — This magnificent region of semi-arid grasslands and rocky outcrops is one of the best hopes for wildlife in central Asia. Argali sheep, lesser kestrels, cinereous vultures, and other animals threatened throughout their range find a stronghold here. Herds of graceful Mongolian gazelles and goitered gazelles roam freely through the reserve. For years, Earthwatch teams have worked to study and conserve the area’s wildlife, including argali—the largest mountain sheep in the world with huge, curling horns. Their efforts have been so successful that results from the work have been used to develop much more effective conservation management activities in the reserve.
Under the overall direction of Gana Wingard and in collaboration with an international team of scientists, Earthwatch is also supporting the archaeological and cultural investigations needed to ensure a truly holistic approach to managing the Reserve. Led by Dr. Joan Schneider (California State Parks), and Charles Bennett (Colorado Desert Archaeology Society), you’ll be surveying the landscape for significant archaeological and cultural resources such as burial cairns, steles and other commemorative monuments or markers, the remains of campsites and rudimentary structures, rock art, and other indications of the cultural history and vitality of the region. The goal of the project is to establish baseline archaeological inventory data. Volunteers should not expect to do excavation or be working at active dig sites, but instead to survey and document the landscape to help determine where such sites will need to be in the future. This expedition is therefore a remarkable opportunity to be involved in designing an ongoing archaeological investigation.
Meet the Scientists
Ganchimeg (Gana) Wingard is a Research Associate with the Denver Zoological Foundation. She holds two Master’s degrees, one from Prague University in Environmental Science and the most recent (2005) in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Montana, where she studied argali and domestic livestock feeding relationships at Ikh Nart. Although a Mongolian national, Gana is a resident of Missoula, Montana and speaks fluent English. She has experience leading ecotours in Mongolia.
Denver Zoological Foundation
“On behalf of the Mongolian Wildlife Conservation Project staff, I would like to invite you to join us for a true adventure in Mongolia! You will spend two nights in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, to experience the ancient and fascinating culture of Mongolia, and almost two weeks in the spectacular semi-desert steppe wilderness, free of fences and paved roads. In addition to bright blue skies and spectacular sunsets, you will see argali, ibex, foxes, vultures, eagles, hawks, lizards, and gazelles.” ~ Dr. Rich Reading
Dr. Richard (Rich) P. Reading is the Director of Conservation Biology at the Denver Zoological Foundation and Associate Research Professor at the University of Denver. He holds a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and three Master’s degrees from Yale University, as well as a B.S. from Trinity College (Hartford) and additional study at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. He has worked in Mongolia since 1994 on a variety of conservation projects. Dr Reading will be present on individual teams as his schedule allows.
Dr. Joan S. Schneider is an Associate State Archaeologist with the California State Parks, Colorado Desert District, and will be directing the archaeological aspects of the project.
Charles Bennett is a trained volunteer archaeologist and engineer at the Colorado Desert Archaeology Society and also works with the Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute; he will be the Field Team Leader for the archaeology team.
President, Argali Wildlife Research Center
Sukhiin (Amgaa) Amgalanbaatar is a research biologist with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, President of the Argali Wildlife Research Center, and a Research Associate with the Denver Zoological Foundation. He has been studying the status and ecology of argali since the late 1980s and is currently working on his Ph.D. at the Mongolian National University. Recognized as the leading ecologist on mountain ungulates in Mongolia, Amgaa is the project’s field manager.
Dr. Yadmaa Tserendagva
Mongolian Academy of Sciences
Dr. Yadmaa Tserendagva is principal archaeologist at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology. He is particularly interested in rock art, but studies all phases of his country's past. He has published in English, Mongolian and Russian. Most of his research has taken place in the Altai (northern) region of Mongolia, and this is his first project in the south-eastern portion of the country. In fact, he says that almost no archaeological research has taken place in the region of Ikh Nart. His expertise and guidance in both the field and laboratory makes this a truly international project with liberal interchange of information.