Argali sheep (Ovis ammon) and Siberian ibex (Capra sibrica; a type of wild goat) live in mountainous regions of central Asia – including the rocky desert-steppe environment in Mongolia. Populations of Argali sheep, in particular, are thought to be declining due to poaching, competition with domestic livestock, and other threats. Researchers have initiated a project to understand the ecology of Argali sheep and ibex, with the ultimate goal of developing long-term conservation management plans for these species. Topics under investigation include habitat use, behavioral ecology, reproduction, and mortality.
Amber Dunaway, Northern Trail Zookeeper, received funding in 2007 from the Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Grant Program to cover some of her travel costs for participating in the Wildlife of the Mongolian Steppe conservation project. While in Mongolia she captured and radio collared Argali sheep and Ibex, radio tracked collared animals, collected behavioral data, collected fecal and vegetation samples, surveyed lizards, small mammals, and invertebrates, as well as monitored cinereous vulture nests for nesting success.