Population Surveys

Mongolia is approximately the size of Western Europe. Yet due to a lack of funding, poor infrastructure hindering travel, and the small number of professional ornithologists, only a few short-term automobile surveys had investigated populations of the Great Bustard in Mongolia before our research began.

Though scientific capacity in Kazakhstan is better-developed, reports of Great Bustard observations have been few in number. This is probably due to the extreme rarity of this species in Kazakhstan, its wariness, and its preference for human-modified habitats which are less frequently targeted by biologists.

In order to detect remnant populations of this bird, our regional teams interview local people as to its historic and current distribution. In the field, we work with local experts, including biologists, members of the hunting community, or observant herders. Travel through the remote areas in which these remnant populations are found is painstakingly slow. The team carries out frequent observations through spotting scope (telescope), since Great Bustards in this region typically move away from humans before they can be spotted by the naked eye. When combing territories for previously unreported populations of Great Bustards, it is typical for us to locate new birds only once every two weeks.

Our team requests protection for areas of critical habitat, such as breeding sites and migration stopovers. We incorporate data concerning bustard locations into studies of bustard habitat use patterns and population genetics.

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