Alone in the Gobi

Orjan is a Swedish PhD student who bought a one-way ticket to Mongolia to work at the base camp of our long-term research project.  These are his adventures…

We were all very happy that we had caught a female. Too bad this joy turned into misery after just two days when we didn’t get any fixes from her collar. Meg and I went back to Trap Area 3 and tried to pick the collar’s VHF signal. After a couple of hours we found the collar in a cave. It looked as if Suhder had wedged it between two rocks and pulled it over her head. There are so many items on the collars that they lose their round shape when tightened to fit a female, and some “corners” appear. I also gave her just a little room to grow in, in case she wasn’t fully grown yet. The collar wasn’t tight enough. Seems as if this female capturing business will be my nemesis.

I have been alone in camp for 17 days now, and it will be another week until the summer crew arrives. I don’t have much to do until they come here. I still have Suhder’s collar, but need a new piece of belt for it that I am expecting any day now. The summer crew is also bringing new collars. With little to do here, let downs with the female’s collar, and no one to talk to, I resorted to the only solution – I spent two days in the ger watching sad movies and indulging in chocolate while talking to Friday [the camp housecat].

Indulging might be saying too much: I ate the two bars that I had. That felt like indulging. And the movies weren’t really sad. To top it off, Miji killed a goat and the darn cat abandoned me in hope to get some fresh goat meat. So much for comforting me…

The good news is that I have started scouting the collaring area. I am aiming to find Superman, and I think that I know where he/she is, based on the three cameras that have taken pictures of him/her. It seems as if Tsagaan, a collared cat, is avoiding part of the mountain range north of his home range, which would point towards Superman being a rival male. I have found quite a lot of scrapes and scent marks (urine on rock walls.


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