MARMOT REINTRODUCTION PROGRAM
Mongolian marmots (Marmota sibirica), are a federally listed endangered species and keystone ecosystem engineers that modify habitat by building extensive burrowing system. They are associated with greater density and diversity of vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant population.
Historically, the most abundant and widely distributed species, the Mongolian marmot, was commonly occur in eastern and north-eastern Mongolia and inhabits steep lowland valleys, hills, and mountain slopes. According to the hunting management report of Sukhbaatar province, Mongolian marmot distributed 881km2 in Halzan village area in 1998. Therefore, the marmot distribution area decreased to 132 km2 in 2003. However, the provincial environmental department conducted a reintroduction project in 2012, their activity failed because of education activity among local people and research or conservation activity. In 2015 hunting management surveys mentioned they have not observed any marmot in the region. Furthermore, the questionnaire survey result among local people showed Mongolian marmot extinct in most of the village area in 2016.
We started a marmot reintroduction project in Halzan village in 2019. However, the main reason for the local marmot extinction was hunting, we based our reintroduction work on educational activity among the local community in 2018 and 2019. We released 20 individuals of marmot in May of 2019. When we have recovered marmot, local administers and village environmental departments actively participated in the releasing process. We have organized a campaign among local people for 20 more marmot reintroduction funding in May of 2021. We increased our fund to 30 marmots at the end of May and recovered 30 more marmots in July of 2021. Also, in 2021, we showed our reintroduction work success that we noted10 babies in 2 families of marmots from the previous reintroduction of 2019.
The steppe zone is treeless and prone to droughts, soil erosion, and desertification.
Steppe Wildlife started a project to combat this process by planting trees in the area. With the help of the Institute of Botany at The Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS), we were able to plant two thousand trees in October 2017 and planted another 500 trees in October 2018.
Most of these trees are indigenous as to not disturb the sensitive ecosystem or introduce neophytes. Despite being adapted to this environment, these trees still need help to survive, especially during the hottest time of the year.
Trees provide shelter, food, and resting locations for wildlife. The trees also help birds to move across the landscape to get to breeding sites, water sources, and to move to different habitats as the seasons change.