Our work in Mongolia

The Gobi Desert sprawls across portions of Mongolia and China, with a small population of grizzly bears surviving in a northern mountainous portion of the arid region.

Vital Ground Partner Projects in the Gobi:
• Supplemental food program
• Radio collaring and GPS monitoring
• Natural resources scholarship program for local students

Grizzlies in the Gobi:
• Gobi Desert covers 500,000 square miles in China and Mongolia
• Grizzly population confined to small northern region
• 25-40 bears live around 3 spring-fed oasis areas

Photo: Harry Reynolds

Gobi Grizzly Conservation

Conservation Partner: Gobi Bear Fund
Partnership Type: Scientific Research
Vital Ground since: 2012

In one of the harshest climates on Earth, grizzlies are clinging to life. In the Mongolian portion of the Gobi Desert, low rugged mountains create enough shelter to support a remnant population of Ursus arctos, the same bear we know as the grizzly or brown bear in North America. In the Gobi, just 2-4 inches of precipitation fall per year and temperatures swing from minus-35 Fahrenheit in winter to 115 in summer. The Gobi grizzlies are undersized by North American standards, surviving on a diet of plants and occasional rodents. Recent tracking and hair sampling studies indicate a population of just 25-40 bears, who cluster around three oasis complexes where small springs anchor plant and animal life.

Since 2011, Vital Ground has supported the Gobi Bear Fund, which supports research efforts and a limited program of food supplementation for these embattled bears. Spearheading our Gobi Bear Initiative is biologist and Vital Ground trustee Douglas Chadwick, whose new book Tracking Gobi Grizzlies documents first-hand the effort to research and recover these bears. Most recently, Vital Ground support allowed the Gobi Bear Project Team to capture and collar two middle-aged female bears, whose GPS data will provide valuable habitat selection information that could help future conservation initiatives.

Other Conservation Partner Projects

in Grizzly Recovery Ecosystems

Vital Ground works to protect and restore habitat for wild grizzly populations in ecosystems where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated grizzly bear recovery zones and where state wildlife management agencies have placed an emphasis on conserving the species.