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Illegal Miners Invade Reserve

Recent information just received by the Wild Camel Protection Foundation indicates illegal mining pressures in the Great Gobi Specially Protected Area ‘A’ in Mongolia, the natural habitat of the critically endangered wild Bactrian camel, are extremely serious and out of control.

The wild camel, which acts as an ‘umbrella’ species in this remote and pristine desert, protecting other critically endangered species such as the wild ass, the Gobi bear and the black-tailed gazelle is under threat in a Protected Area, a National Nature Reserve.

Latest estimates from the information WCPF (UK) has received there are over 200 illegal miners, nicknamed ‘ninjas’ in the Protected Area. They are using primitive and intensely destructive methods potassium cyanide and water from waterpoints to mine gold. The Park Authorities have limited  financial and manpower resources to manage the 55,000 square kilometers of the Protected Area and this problem is increasing daily as more miners arrive and there is pressure from large mining companies to mine parts of these Protected Areas in Mongolia for gold and copper.

The recent winter in Mongolia has been severe, but this  did not stop the miners entering the Protected Area and mining gold. They have over-wintered in the heartland of the Park – the ONLY wild camel habitat in Mongolia – leaving the area littered with rubbish, plastic bags and tins, denuded water supplies for the fauna and flora; and the fragile desert surface torn up by vehicle tracks.

There are only 450 wild camels in Mongolia and fewer than 600 in north-west China and in both areas they are threatened with illegal gold and iron-ore mining.
Pressure is being put on the Mongolian government by miners and speculators to de-gazette the Specially Protected Area ‘A’ and allow gold to be legally mined.
The Park established in 1978 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Mongolian Government is home to both endangered large and small mammals, including species of gerbils, jerboas and also to rare endangered desert flora.

The situation cannot be controlled with the resources currently available and awareness needs to be raised world-wide of these threats to this and other Protected Areas and Nature Reserves in Mongolia, and pressure put on both illegal miners and legal mining companies to respect the laws protecting these National Nature Reserves.

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