The Mongolian Wolverine Project is the first effort to systematically assess the wolverine population in Mongolia. At present, we have simple goals:
1. Assess the distribution of wolverines throughout Mongolia.
2. Use interviews, track surveys, DNA sample analysis, and camera traps to gain a better understanding of the status of the wolverine population in Mongolia.
3. Assess potential threats, including levels of hunting and possible climate change impacts.
4. Collaborate with the Mongolian protected areas system in order to build capacity for research and conservation of wildlife.
In the future, we hope to expand this project to include a collar study that will help refine our understanding of habitat use, diet, and demographics. We also hope to broaden the scope of the work to include other climate sensitive species, and are collaborating with researchers interested in looking at additional species.
The project was first conceptualized in 2006, when Jason Wilmot and Jeff Copeland expressed interest in understanding more about the cryptic and never-before-studied wolverine population in Mongolia. As a former Peace Corps environment volunteer who had spent two years teaching students and researching snow leopards in Mongolia, I began collaborating with Jason to launch a preliminary assessment of distribution and local knowledge of the species. In 2009, a summer pilot study yielded enough good information to put together a more serious proposal, and in 2010 Jason traveled to northern Mongolia, to the Sayan Range around the Darhad Valley, to assess the possibilities for an eventual longer-term collaring study. In 2010, I also conducted interview surveys in the Altai Range in western Mongolia, and in the eastern Khangai Range in central Mongolia. In 2011 I returned to the southwestern Altai for further work, and also traveled back to the Darhad for intensive interviews with the Tsataan (Dukha), a small community of reindeer herders whose reliance on hunting has rendered them experts on wildlife. In 2012 I conducted interviews on both shores of Lake Hovsgol and also in the central Khangai Range. In 2013, Jason and I were part of a 250-mile ski traverse surveying for wolverines in the Sayan. A report on the activities and findings of the project to date is currently being compiled and will be available here when it is completed.
I (Rebecca Watters) am the director of the project.
Jason Wilmot is chief scientific adviser and a key participant in fieldwork.
Jeff Copeland also serves a scientific adviser.
This section is still under construction, so check back for additional updates in the future.