Three wild camel surveys in the Gobi desert
In 1995 and 1996 John Hare became the first foreigner to cross the Gashun Gobi Desert in China from north to south and to reach the ancient city of Lou Lan from the east. John Hare and his team stumbled across a hitherto undiscovered outpost of the ancient city of Lou Lan, called Tu-ying, on the Middle Silk Road.
In 1999, on another expedition mounted on camels, John Hare’s team discovered two unmapped valleys deep in the Gobi sand dunes, which contained wildlife that had never seen or experienced man.
This 1999 survey traversed some hitherto unexplored sand dunes near the northern Tibet escarpment that led John Hare into these two undiscovered and unmapped valleys and a fresh water spring that held pockets of wildlife that had no fear of man. In addition to observing 169 critically endangered wild camels, the expedition also saw the Tibetan ass, the Argali wild sheep, wolves and bears. The survey resulted in the establishment of the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in the former Chinese nuclear test area to protect the critically endangered wild camel of which there are no more than 600 in China.
In November 2005, on a return visit, John Hare found that illegal miners had entered the area and in their search for gold, poisoned the spring and the vegetation with potassium cyanide and shot the wildlife. However, the Chinese government has responded by cleaning up the area and renewed its determination to combat illegal mining.
In 2011, another survey made by John Hare with Kazakhs and a Chinese scientist on domestic camels revealed that the Chinese Government had cleaned up the spring at Kum Su and that wild camels and other endangered species were returning to the spring. The expedition saw another 126 wild camels.
John Hare’s talk covers the 1999, 2005 and 2011 expeditions in detail with over 60 extraordinary photos.
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