’Great Gobi 6’ initiative | WWF

’Great Gobi 6’ initiative

Posted on 11 October 2016    
The event was attended by a total of 180 individuals
© WWF Mongolia
Globally endangered Wild Bactrian Camel, Gobi Bear, Takhi or Wild Horse, Khulan or Wild Ass, and Saiga Antelope, listed as vulnerable Goitered Gazelle are symbols of well-being and health of Gobi ecosystems. To protect the Gobi ecosystems, a home to these species (those are being called, herein, as “Great Gobi 6” or GG6), build partnership platform and empower collaborative efforts of governmental and non-governmental organizations and the public (local communities) into the conservation activities, an event “Great Gobi 6” was organized in September 2016 under the campaign initiated by the WWF Mongolia  (MPO). A venue of the event was the “TAKHIIN TAL” (“Steppe of Takhi”), which is historically proclaimed as the land of last traces of wild horse (Takhi), or a vacant and unpopulated area of 120 km in radius included in the areas of Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area part “B”.   
We often hear of concerns such as declining populations of Wild Bactrian camel, Wild Ass, Gobi bear, Takhi Horse, Saiga Antelope, and Goitered Gazelle from day to day and they have become one of the target species in the region. However, no actual progress and achievements are seen in practice. It might be somehow related to our inadequate knowledge and understanding on importance and values of these species. Therefore, the event organizers and participants agreed to get together under the title of “Great Gobi 6” in order to refill our knowledge gap and revere importance of these endangered species of the Gobi. 
The event was attended by a total of 180 individuals representing the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MoET), the Institute of Biology of the Academy of Sciences, the Foundation for Gobi Bear Conservation, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Mongolian National Broadcasting, the Association for Gobi Khulan Conservation, “Khomiin Taliin Takhi” NGO, the National University of Mongolia (NUM), the Programme “Steppe Forward” of Zoological Soceity of London, Hustai National Park, the Centre for Re-Introduction of Takhi in Takhi Steppe, the Association for Takhi Conservation (France), the Administration of Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area’s parts “A” and “B”, senior officers and officials from local Citizen’s Representative Assemblies, Governor’s Administration Offices, and Environmental and Tourism Departments of Bayankhongor, Govi-Altai, Khovd, and Zavkhan aimags (provinces), and local communities from Altangadas Bagh (the smallest administrative unit or sub-division within a soum) of Altai soum (a sub-province), of Khovd aimag (province) and Altansoyombo Bagh of Tonkhil soum and Bij Bagh of Bugat soum of Govi-Altai aimag. Researchers and scientists presented importance and values of the six species to raise awareness on the species among the participants. 
TAKHIIN TAL APPEAL, one of the key outputs from the event, was unanimously agreed by the participants. Under the appeal, all involving parties including local authorities (the aimags, where the species of “GG6” do inhabit) have made their commitments by proposing their activities.  
In addition to artistic performances and entertainments, a contest was organized among local representatives and had “Questions and Answers” on the GG6 and their habitats and importance which were much informative for all the participants. A great surprise to the event participants arrived in Takhiin Tal was a musical “Under the Great Gobi’s Sun” performed by the Music and Drama Theatre of Khovd aimag, which showed multifaceted details on current status and specific living patterns of the GG6 populations.     
The first event of “GG6” initiative was successfully organized and supported by all the participants. At the end of the event, Govi-Altai aimag pledged to host the next year’s event.  All the participants have returned their homes with a great motivation and the “specific assignments” with respect to conservation of the GG6. 
“TAKHIIN TAL APPEAL”
WE, representatives of the government of Mongolia, NGOs, and civil society,
Noting that the Gobi of Mongolia is a home of charismatic wild species namely, Wild Bactrian Camel, Gobi Bear, Takhi or Wild Horse, Khulan or Wild Ass, and Saiga Antelope, and Goitered Gazelle, 
Recognizing that these wild species are globally endangered or vulnerable and key representatives of Gobi ecosystems,
Considering that distribution areas of these species are increasingly shrinking,
Highlighting the importance of collaborative approaches in conservation of these species,
Being aware of our duties to conserve the planet,
developed and agreed the Tahiin Tal Appeal as follows:
I. To the participants:
А. With regard to policy and cooperation:
To improve the legal and regulatory environment on wildlife conservation and sustainable use through the initiative GG6;
To formulate and implement a comprehensive policy for mobilizing governmental and non-governmental organizations and the public (local communities) into the initiative GG6;
To organize the public events and national campaigns to support the initiative GG6 under the Government custody;
B. With regard to research, conservation, and sustainable use:
To identify status and the constraints and obstacles faced to the conservation of GG6 and their solutions;
To create a brand tourism product(s) named after GG6;
To advance and expand research and population monitoring surveys of GG6 and their roles in the ecosystem;
To organize the annual public events such as Open Days, campaigns, training and awareness activities through all stakeholder engagement;  
II. To the public and local communities:
To organize annual festival under the initiative GG6;
Local communities and decision makers of the areas, where the GG6 do inhabit, need to jointly define and implement the long-term environmentally sound approaches on access to the ecosystem’s benefits;
Local communities should actively take part in enforcement of the decisions made with respect to conservation and sustainable use of the GG6;
To widely take part and contribute the initiative GG6 with financial supports;
Bij River, 15 September, 2016
 
PRIORITY ACTIONS UNDER THE TAKHIIN TAL APPEAL
To insert a special clause (consideration) on conservation of the GG6 and the Gobi ecosystems in the Aimag Development Programmes and Action Plans; 
To compile all available research and conservation data and create a database on  GG6;    
To prepare proposals for expansion of existing Protected Areas and establishment of new PAs  in the habitat of the GG6;
To organize awareness raising activities (through a cartoon, field trip, e-page, serial programme, a documentary etc.) on the GG6 for the public at the national level;
COMMITMENTS
Bayankhongor aimag:
To organize entertainment-field trip (through distribution areas of the GG6 and exhibition);
To auction the opportunity to give names to individuals of the GG6 in the Gobi those are put on satellite image transmitting collars;
To publish a booklet GG6;
To review the existing legal and regulatory framework on establishment of Fund for GG6 and identify the feasible option (Bayankhongor aimag);
To maintain the area around “Toli” natural spring and let water open (partner: Administration of Great Gobi SPA part B);
To maintain the area around “Tsagaan Bogd” natural spring (partner: Administration of Great Gobi SPA part B);
Khovd aimag:
To issue a policy document GG6;
To review previous study and conservation status of the GG6, plan and implement priority actions, and establish a database;
To have a programme for public awareness on  GG6;
To include activities related to the GG6 in the Aimag Governor’s Action Plan (the Aimag Development Programme);
To expand the Great Gobi SPA part A and move the Administration to Altai soum centre;
Zavkhan aimag:
To organize public awareness activities on three out of the GG6 those are distributed within the aimag territory on semi-annual basis;  
To prepare a justification for taking distribution areas of the species under state protection (to have it supported by local (bagh) communities);
To draft a plan for Durvuljun Soum’s Territorial Development (A Plan for Green Development) through engagement of relevant stakeholders;  
To enforce the quarantine regimes and norms established by the veterinary service (e.g. in café of anthrax and other infectious diseases); 
 Govi-Altai aimag:
To carry out studies on core area of  diseases spread over and habitats of saiga population (partners: the WCS and WWF MPO);
To conduct inventory of black-tailed gazelle population;
To conduct inventory of Bactrian camel and study the feasibility to develop tourism (partner: the ZSL)
To apply and pilot advanced (new) technique and technology for improved anti-poaching and illegal trade operations;
To lay down a basis of development of eco-tourism to promote the GG6;
To expand a Protected Area by including corridor areas (name of the area: Suman Khairkhan);
To include an independent section/clause on GG6 in the Aimag’s Master Plan;
To protect wildlife habitats (pastureland, water source, and other lands) (Pastureland Management Plan 2023); 
 
The event was attended by a total of 180 individuals
© WWF Mongolia Enlarge
A great surprise to the event participants arrived in Takhiin Tal was a musical “Under the Great Gobi’s Sun”
© WWF Mongolia Enlarge
Participants
© WWF Mongolia Enlarge

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