Year: 2011
Location: Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Project Type: Grant

Grizzly researchers have established a new nonprofit organization, the Gobi Bear Fund, to make sure these hungry desert-dwelling bears on the outermost edge of existence are being fed, protected and studied.

gobimapTwo Vital Ground volunteers, Douglas H. Chadwick, a wildlife biologist and founding board member, and ecologist Mike Proctor, advisory board member, accompanied scientists in Mongolia on an expedition led by Harry Reynolds, a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game bear biologist and two-term president of the International Bear Association.

“In addition to capturing two grizzlies and placing GPS satellite radio collars on them, the crew observed a free-roaming bear for hours and identified perhaps ten others from the latest photos taken by automatic cameras set up at strategic sites,” observed Chadwick. “These aren’t large numbers, but they are important. You see, fewer than 50 Gobi bears still exist, and the actual number may be just two to three dozen.”

Now, researchers have established a new nonprofit organization, the Gobi Bear Fund, to make sure these hungry desert-dwelling bears on the outermost edge of existence are being fed, protected and studied. To help support the work of this new nonprofit, Vital Ground launched the Gobi Bear Initiative in the fall of 2011.

gobi_desert_reynolds

Only 26-36 of these remarkable bears still exist in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, one of the most inhospitable environments on earth. Photo by Harry Reynolds.

The Gobi Bear Initiative will raise funds for four primary needs: 1) supplemental food with improved nutritional content for the bears, 2) fuel for rangers to patrol, monitor wildlife and distribute grain pellets to the oases, 3) satellite radio collars and other scientific equipment for tracking the bears and analyzing habitat and 4) university scholarships for ten students from five local communities for attending a natural resource program. The Gobi Bear Fund outlined an annual budget of $30,000 to finance these projects.

Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, where Gobi bears live, is one of the most inhospitable environments on earth. Photo by Harry Reynolds.

Several generous contributors have stepped forth to ensure a successful conservation program in Mongolia. In their usual enthusiastic manner, Doug and Lynne Seus made the inaugural donation establishing Vital Ground’s Gobi Bear Initiative. Wolverine study volunteer Dave Murray soon followed, as did generous contributions from several Vital Ground trustees, individual donors, the Augustyn Foundation, and the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust Foundation, and the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust.