An immense grassland in Mongolia – an area likened to the long-gone prairies of the American West, complete with staggering migrations of hundreds of thousands of animals – is threatened by a proposal to build a road through its center, according to scientists with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.
The road proposal is part of the "Millennium Highway," which plans to connect Mongolia to China and the Russian Far East. The current version of the plan calls for de-gazetteing all or parts of several protected areas on Mongolias eastern steppes, home to the Mongolian gazelle, which perhaps number over a million individuals, along with other wildlife. Scientists say that the gazelle migration across the Eastern Steppes is the last great gathering of large hoofed mammals in Asia, similar to migrations of wildebeest in Africas Serengeti, and North Americas caribou.
"This is the largest intact grazing ecosystem left on the planet, home to Asias last great spectacle of migrating hoofed animals," said Dr. George Schaller, a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist, who has worked in Mongolia since 1989. "This proposal would disrupt the migrations and could destroy the gazelles calving grounds."
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
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