Hi everyone, Cheri here!
I have always enjoyed the beautiful wilderness spaces and am passionate about preserving undeveloped space for wildlife habitat and the mental health of humans.
Mongolia is a place I have been fascinated with for over 10 years, mostly due to it's natural and cultural beauty and purity. Over the past several months I have become involved with a campaign to help preserve one of the last, ancient largest freshwater lakes in the world called Lake Hovsgol. The Mongolians call this body of water "The Mother Sea". The Lake and the wildlife park around it are unique on this planet, and under threat from poachers and illegal developers and loggers.
The park is patrolled by rangers, mostly on horseback, on foot or decrepit old motorcycles which were never really meant for off-road use. The rangers need better transportation to do their job catching poachers and illegal developers, and the motorcycles they have are old, tired and inadequate. The horses are even less effective and it's not easy to cover vast expanses of wilderness on foot or catch up with poachers driving 4-wheel drive jeeps. New off-road motorcycles will greatly help them to do their jobs. And the Mongolian government has agreed to provide all maintenance, parts and fuel for the motorcycles.
I am raising funds to buy one motorcycle and safety gear to outfit a ranger. On my own dime I am going to go to Mongolia to deliver it to the ranger in person. Entire airfare comes out of my own pocket, and I am volunteering my time both here with fundraising and coordination, and in Mongolia with coordination and delivery.
Lake Hovsgol is one of the last best places!
The Lake and surrounding wildlife area is a National Park bigger than Yellowstone and strictly protected as a transition zone between Central Asian Steppe and the Siberian Taiga. It's one of 17 ancient lakes that are more than 2 million years old, and the water is so clean you can drink it without any treatment. There are a number of indigenous people that live around it and depend on it for their water supply. In fact it contains 70% of all the surface freshwater supply for the whole country of Mongolia. There is no body of water this clean and this large in America. None.
So what's threatening it?
Illegal poaching, including illegal drift net fishing, illegal logging: The lake has fish, including two endemic species, and since it's a lake, those fish can easily become overfished as every other fish population in the world has become. The surrounding parklands are home to a number of really awesome animals, including ibex, argali, elk, wolf, wolverine, musk deer, brown bear, Siberian moose, and sable.
Mongolia has done a good job designating this area as a wildlife preserve to protect the survival of these animals, but enforcement is challenging. Rangers have been stabbed and injured trying to enforce the law against poachers, who stand to make a great deal of money in the short term.
Illegal development and tourism: It shouldn't be news to Americans that people in and from outside Mongolia are eager to develop properties around the lake. Rangers have caught individuals simply building around it without permits. Run off and pollution from illegal development and road building is certain to pollute the lake, as well as impact wildlife habitat. Additionally outsiders have come in and started developing environmental tourism projects without necessarily caring for the habitat or obtaining permission.
But they have rangers to enforce the laws, right?
Yes, the whole park is about 4,600 square miles (1.2mm hectares) and there are 15 permanent rangers and a few seasonal ones. Each ranger patrols over 300 square miles of park, which is about the same size as all the boroughs in New York City. And they do it mostly on horseback. Imagine if there was only one policeman in a space as big as the five boroughs of New York City, and he was on horseback chasing bad guys in jeeps.
The poachers and illegal users in the park tool around in jeeps, 4x4's, and other vehicles. Did I also mention the poachers are armed?
The rangers have asked for help by in the form of offroad motorcycles, gear, and training. With modern offroad motorcycles, they could patrol more effectively and discourage lawbreakers.
So why do I care, and how can I help?
It's true, Mongolia is halfway around the world, but I care, and here's why:
- We don't have that many wild places left in the world.
- We don't have that much wildlife left in the world.
- I love nature, I spend a lot of time in nature, and it's not often that I get to actually do hands-on volunteering to not only help protect one of the last pristine natural places in the world, but at the same time help improve the work life of an individual who is protecting this area. That's just awesome!
Even if you aren't moved by this situation, I ask that you support me in my effort to keep this wild area as pristine as possible. You can help by donating to help cover the cost of a motorcycle and equipment.
Where does the money go?
100% of the money you donate is tax-deductible, and goes to buy and ship the motorcycle and equipment. I am paying my own ticket over, and the Mongol Ecology Center is not taking any of it for administration, it all goes directly to equipment for the rangers!
I am trying to fund one motorcycle and equipment. Each motorcycle and equipment, along with shipping, costs $7,550. I am trying to raise enough to outfit one ranger. Any additional money goes to buying a second motorcycle if I exceed my fundraising goal.
If I raise additional funds, but not enough for an entire motorcycle and gear, the Mongol Ecology Center has agreed to pool it with the funds raised by other volunteers to fund another complete motorcycle.
How you can help
Donate, and donate big to get the very best benefit premiums! Please share this with everyone you know as well.