German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Migratory wildlife species in Mongolia

Migratory wildlife species in Mongolia are able to cross previously blocked terrain

A Asiatic wild ass or khulan crossing a previously impenetrable barrier | Photo: Kirk Olson/WCS
A Asiatic wild ass or khulan crossing a previously impenetrable barrier | Photo: Kirk Olson/WCS

Putbus/Insel Vilm, 26 June 2020: After 65 years, migratory wildlife species in Mongolia have been able to use a newly established crossing to access previously blocked habitat. The International Academy for Nature Conservation Isle of Vilm from BfN was involved in the intensive consultation process with all stakeholders, which was the basis for implementing these changes.

In mid-June the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a photo, taken by a remote camera, showing a single Asiatic wild ass or khulan (Equus hemionus hemionus) crossing a previously blocked barrier along the Trans Mongolian Railroad. The passage is part of the project Trans Mongolian Railroad ‘Wildlife Friendly’ Fence Corridor, that aims for simple modifications to existing fence constructions in order to allow crossing of migratory species.

“We are happy about this good news. It shows that opening the fences along the railroad, which is dissecting the habitat of migratory mammals from North to South, actually can help to re-establish the migratory routes. Unimpeded migrations are important for the long-term survival of wildlife populations, especially in times of climate change. The fence modifications are the result of successful cooperation between experts, non-governmental organizations, authorities and international organisations”, says Andrea Strauss of the International Academy for Nature Conservation Isle of Vilm. The Academy has accompanied the process with workshops, both in Mongolia and on the Isle of Vilm, consultations and studies over many years in close cooperation with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) as well as other stakeholders.

In the first pilot phase of the project, gaps in two places provide safe passage for the khulan and other species like the Mongolian gazelle and goitered gazelle. According to the WCS, further crossings for wildlife are planned.

Roads, railways and other infrastructure pose a threat for migratory species, by blocking their access to important habitat. Since 1955, the largely fenced Trans-Mongolian Railroad blocked many migratory species from accessing those parts of their range which are situated in the extensive eastern grasslands of Mongolia. Every year many Mongolian gazelles get caught in the corridor fencing and many more starve as they are prevented from reaching the quality pasture. The project is a “starting point for reconnecting the Gobi-Steppe Ecosystem and revitalizing the spectacular wildlife migrations”, said WCS Mongolia Conservation Director Dr. Kirk Olson.

The project was implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with the Ulaanbaatar Railroad Authority, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and funded by Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the Secretariat for the Convention on Migratory Species, and the Mongolian Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, and the Mongolian Ministry of Roads, Transportation and Development.