Gobi Bear Project
Saving the World’s Rarest Bear
The Gobi Bear Project, comprised of Mongolian and international scientists, is working with the Government of Mongolia to recover the Critically Endangered Gobi brown bear. With fewer than 40 bears remaining in the wild and none in captivity, the Gobi bear is considered the rarest of all bear subspecies in the world.
The Gobi bear, or Mazaalai, is the only bear in the world to live exclusively in a desert environment, where temperatures range reach 40 C in summer and drop to -40 C in winter. These bears eat little meat, relying almost exclusively on plants including wild rhubarb, grass shoots, and wild onions. Because of the harsh climate and limited food, Gobi bears travel over large areas, some 1,000s of square kilometers in size. Water is also limited and restricted to three complexes of oases, which most if not all Gobi bears use periodically from spring to fall each year.
The range of Gobi bears has contracted markedly over the last 50 years, and these bears currently occupy an area less than half of their former known range. Various human pressures in and near the Gobi bear’s range has increased substantially since the early 1990s and is believed to have led to significant habitat degradation. Increasing temperatures are also suggested to have reduced quality of remaining habitat.
The Gobi Bear Project in collaboration with the Government of Mongolia is entering its next phase of research to move further toward recovery goals and help ensure the persistence of this unique and rare bear.