Freezing our #@!#’s off 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…

Well, the big thing is that it’s cold! as in really cold. Or maybe not really cold, but it feels really cold cause I’ve gotten used to the heat. Two days ago, I wore a short sleeved shirt and was sweating badly, today, I have long-johns and a down jacket to keep from shivering. The thermometer claim that it’s 6 degrees C outside [around 42 F] , though I’m not convinced cause a couple of hours ago, a pair of polar bears walked past camp, heading south.

The camp is superb, it really is. Though there is a slight mistake in the planning. It is great for summer temperatures, but we only have one stove (which would be OK, we could heat up one ger and stay there) but there is no firewood, dung or coal to burn in the stove (this could off course be solved if we had a vehicle but that left for UB [Ulaanbaatar–the capital] five days ago). That car was returned to Snow Leopard Enterprise, a local NGO, who needed it back. The plan is that as soon as Snow Leopard Trust has wired money to buy a new car the staff in UB will do so and send it here. We are kind of hoping that it will happen fairly soon cause we are running low on water and Mije heard on the radio that it’s going to snow tomorrow, so just a little bit of heat would be kind of neat.

I know that 6 degrees isn’t really cold, but it gets kind of cold when it’s the same temperature inside and you never get warm. And as I wrote, my body has probably just adjusted to the heat in the Gobi so it feels colder than it is.

The rain has probably clogged up our snares so our hopes to catch a cat tonight aren’t very high, lessens the motivation to hike up signal mountain a bit… Well, I have looked at the trap camera pictures, done some calculations and are now fairly sure that we will catch our next snow leopard on the 2nd of September. Plus – minus one day.

Have to sign out, Namshur is doing the evening check inside the ger and one of the traps is set [triggered], got to put on some clothes and check it out.

Back again, the trap was tripped but nothing in it. Darn.


  1. Great work Orjan! I’m following all this with delight from Australia where I’m a sponsor of snow leopards at Melbourne Zoo. Fanstatic to see the pics and the colaring work, it must be so exciting. But I have a question, are there really polar bears near you? 😉

  2. Hi Orjan.
    Congratulations on the work you are doing! Not envious of the cold , but sure envious of the work and the importance of it ….
    I do volunteer work in Australia on conservation projects , but the scale and importanceof what you are doing dwarfs my efforts ..and I admire you incredibly for that! You are working on saving one of the most beautiful animals in the world! And one of the most elusive!! So your job is critically important. As a contributer to the Snow Leopard Trust , your blogs are a fantastic way for us to see how our donations are being spent. It is good to know people like you are in the front lines. I wish you every success.
    Chris from Australia.

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