Mongolia is best known for its wide-open spaces. Standing in the middle of the steppe, you really do get a sense of how endless it seems. It stretches as far as the eye can see until the land and sky appear to become one. In the mountains, the rugged terrain is riddled with varying shades of greys and tans within the rock formations. Vegetation is sparse, with short, overgrazed grass in most areas, and skeletal-looking shrubs. Trees are very few and far between as well. In other words, there are not many structures around for shelter. This means that wildlife has had to adapt the ability to blend in efficiently with their environment to avoid being seen by predators or prey.
In Mongolia, humans and wildlife don’t often cross paths, so wildlife is very skittish in the event that they do. For researchers, who need to find and observe wildlife, spotting well-camouflaged animals in a vast landscape is incredibly challenging. It becomes more of a game of “Where’s Waldo”. If you ever find yourself working in habitats like this, be aware that if you do see wildlife and are determined to get photos, a camera with a GREAT zoom would be most recommended. If you’re like me, and on a tight budget, you may end up having to make do with a simple “point and shoot” camera (I have a Canon SX170 IS).
Although photos taken with a more basic camera may not be ideal for publishing in a magazine, they illustrate a more realistic picture of what its actually like to see wildlife in many remote locations. At the very least, you’ll have a collection of images to drive family and friends crazy as they try to find what you saw. So depending on how you look at it, your “bad photos” could actually be made into something quite fun. Below is a series of photos taken in Mongolia of various wildlife. Try to find the critter(s) before looking at the copy that gives it away!
One of the coolest crickets I’ve ever seen! Check out that cryptic coloring! This bad boy is the size of your thumb and has bright blue on the inside of his back legs.
Now try this one..
See the “bowling pin”? You’ll end up hearing this chukar partridge from across the mountain range with its loud, obnoxious clucking, but its color and pattern helps it to blend in nicely with the lichen covered rocks.
Out on the open plain and don’t think you can see much? Gotta be quick!
Look closely as those 7 tan specks before they disappear over the hill! Thats a fleet-footed herd of gazelle.
::Insert Jeopardy theme song here::
Its a hoopoe!
Hmmm…what do we have here? I’ll give you a hint. There are 3.
Corsac fox kits! Before this photo was taken a fourth ducked into a burrow.
You’ll have to excuse the slightly fuzzy quality of this next photo. It was zoomed as far as it would go across a valley.
Spotted this herd of ibex right after we set a camera trap by a natural salt deposit that they’ve been visiting.
How many did you count? I’ll post a 3rd, more close up version of this one. Follow from the shrub near the bottom left corner diagonally to the top right corner. Spoiler: There are 11 ibex.
Not hard enough? Here you go. No, it’s not just a photo of rocks.
Right there! The last 3 ibex catching up with the herd!
Whew! So you just did a massive hike up and around an entire mountain range, looking for snow leopard signs. Time to get back to camp for some grub! Mmm…boiled mutton and potatoes, washed down with boiled water, slightly flavored with tea…again. But where’s camp?
Oh! There it is!
Home sweet home…for a couple days at least. My tent is the faded orange one.
Thanks for playing my little seek and find game!