~ Publication details ~

Kenny, D. and R. Reading. 2001. Field research into argali. International Zoo News 48:257-258.

Abstract - In November 2000 a joint expedition involving staff of the Denver Zoological Foundation, the Argali Wildlife Research Center, and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences set out from the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar to immobilize and radio-collar a wild argali sheep (Ovis ammon). After a seven-hour train ride and two-hour van ride, the team assembled at the edge of a valley leading into an expanse of rocky outcrops in Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in the south-east of the country. Over the next ten days our routine was to spend approximately eight hours hiking in bitter cold (day time temperature as low as –30° F and windchill down to –85° F) through the valleys and interesting rock formations of this breathtaking park in search of argali. Relatively good numbers of argali inhabit the park, but early snows (including one storm that hit soon after we arrived) made a soundless stalk problematic. Our expedition also coincided with the breeding season, so the argali gathered in large groups tended by dominant rams. This meant that there were many eyes, ears, and noses available to detect us. Just when the success of our mission appeared to be in jeopardy, we succeeded in darting an approximately 110-pound (50 kg) 18-month-old female argali. We named her Gana in honor of one of our team members. We believe this to be the first successful immobilization and radio-collaring of a free-ranging argali anywhere. Since the immobilization occurred close to camp, all members of the team were able to participate in the event. Needless to say, it was a high point in our collective professional careers.
Following measurements, biomaterial samplings and collaring, Gana's anesthesia was reversed, and she was released unharmed back into the wild. We successfully tracked her movements for three days using radio telemetry and global positioning system (GPS) technology before having to leave the park. Mongolian and, more occasionally, American team members will return to the site monthly to locate and monitor Gana in the face of bitter winters (–40° F), scorching summers (+100° F), and sand storm punctuated springs (winds to 60 m.p.h.). This is the difficult, nitty-gritty business of field research necessary for obtaining a better understanding of this little known, threatened species. We are very optimistic that, with sufficient funding and the experience we gained (and continue to gain) from Gana, we can return to the area next year and collar several more argali.

Publisher - International Zoo News

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