Mongolia: ‘A Place Full of Treasures’

By Kofi Opoku-Ansah

In September 2015, photographer Kofi Opoku-Ansah and his girlfriend Kim traveled to Mongolia on Earthwatch’s Wildlife of the Mongolian Steppe expedition. Kofi’s favorite moments include radio collaring and releasing argali sheep (a male/female pair were named after Kofi and Kim), working alongside Mongolian researchers, students, and horsemen to achieve critical conservation goals, and, on a very personal level, proposing to his girlfriend of four years underneath a rocky mountain near the camp. (Spoiler alert: she said yes!)

A Photographer’s Dream Realized

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I’d never been to Asia and was seeking adventure, so joining an Earthwatch expedition in Mongolia was both far enough from my home in London and adventurous enough to meet this need. Given my love for animals and desire to give something back to nature, Earthwatch’s Wildlife of the Mongolian Steppe expedition seemed to fit every piece of my ideal expedition.

After a year of planning, reading, and researching about Mongolia, the day finally came
for my girlfriend, Kim, and I to travel to Mongolia for our expedition, where we would focus on capturing and tagging argali sheep.

The excitement was overwhelming when we finally reached Mongolia after a 12-hour flight and transfer in Moscow. A few days after arriving in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, we met our team members for a casual dinner, introduction and briefing before our trip to the camp at Ikh Nart Nature Reserve where the expedition would take place. Traveling on old Russian trains from Ulaanbaatar for seven hours south into the semi stepped Gobi, followed by an hour drive to camp was a nice experience, yet it was only the beginning of our adventure!

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Our 12 days at the camp in Ikh Nart was incredible, and we would love to volunteer again in the near future. Meeting people from all walks of life who are working for the same cause was something truly special. Our days consisted of team briefings, cinereous vulture and snake sightings, argali and ibex capture, and walking transects, to name just a few. The organization on this project was flawless. The teamwork and effort by the volunteers and researchers was inspiring.

Working side-by-side with Mongolian volunteer students, scientists from the Denver Zoo, and the Mongolian horsemen proved how greatness can be achieved when working with people with the same conservation goals. In moments like these, language barriers are broken and determination for success becomes the prime focus on everyone’s mind. This is especially true when it involves making a difference in the lives of endangered species.

Our goal as a team was to capture at least five argali and ibexes to be radio collared. Our typical day involved driving to a dedicated area, setting two nets parallel to each other that spanned across 160 meters, and then taking positions to hide (sometimes for hours) whilst the horsemen went in search of the argali and drove them towards the nets. When we caught an argali, a group of us would take blood samples, weigh, record temperatures, attach radio collars, provide water to cool the animals down, and finally release them in a span of only 5-15 minutes.

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Scientists, volunteers, and local staff, including skilled Mongolian horsemen, capture argali sheep by driving them towards nets. They then quickly tag them, monitor their health, and release them back into the wild.

This process required great planning, strategy and cooperation from all team members. There were many idle moments with no action, but with determination and persistence we successfully captured and tagged our target of five argali and ibex within a week.

The Surprise Proposal

Soon after arriving in Mongolia, Kim and I celebrated our fourth anniversary. And I had a Kim_Kofi_Mongolia_proposalsurprise in mind for her. For days, I had been checking and double-checking on the safety of an engagement ring I had brought with me so I could propose to Kim in Mongolia. One morning before our daily tasks, Kim and I went for a walk. Without ever thinking about the outcome if she was to say no, I went ahead and proposed, and with everything I had imagined, she said yes!

We announced the news to the rest of the team during lunch, and received many compliments and well wishes from our team members.

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The Earthwatch camp at Ike Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia

Experience of a Lifetime

My experience on this trip far exceeded my expectations and there were many highlights. Getting engaged, celebrating my birthday, having an argali sheep named after me, seeing a grey wolf, meeting and working with the Mongolian horsemen, going disco dancing in the middle of the Gobi – these are just a few examples.

But the opportunity to do something worthwhile has to be one of the greatest highlights in my life so far.

Many have asked ‘Why Mongolia of all places?’ My answer is, ‘Why not?’ Mongolia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with its vast lands, nature and archaeology. It is a place full of treasures.

The argali conservation project is a really special one. The researchers and volunteers who take part and dedicate their time and interest in it have worked so hard and have contributed so much – they have made a massive impact in the preservation of these endangered species. I recommend it in so many ways, and I can’t wait to go back in the near future!

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Kofi and Kim (featured bottom row, third and fourth from left) and their Earthwatch research team in Mongolia.

Kofi and Kim were so moved by their experience that they now donate 10 percent of the proceeds from their silk scarf business to the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia.

11 thoughts on “Mongolia: ‘A Place Full of Treasures’

  1. 髪の毛を守れ!女性の抜け毛対策
    抜け毛は男性だけの悩みではないです!年を取るとともに、女性であっても生え際が心細くなりますよね。そんな女性のための抜け毛対策をお教えします。
    毛染めやパーマには注意!正しいケアを
    白髪染めやパーマなど、歳をとっても身だしなみはしたいですね。でもカラーリング剤やパーマ液は頭皮に刺激が強く、抜け毛の原因と考えられます。抜け毛や薄毛が不安ときはパーマやカラーは控えましょう。また、頭皮にあった商品を選ぶなど、毎日の正しい洗髪もとても大事ですね。

  2. I don’t even know the way I ended up here, however I assumed
    this submit used to be good. I do not know who
    you’re however definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger if you happen to aren’t already.
    Cheers!

  3. どうもです。
    通りがかりの者で急のコメントですいません。
    冠婚葬祭とかっていきなりやって来るので先立つものがないとしんどいですよね。おいらも金なしのころにはたまったたくわえがなくって、特に給料前の年末なんかはしんどいですよ。でもみんなきびしいこと言いますがまあノンバンクなんかの金貸しのサービスがあればそこそこしのげるんですよね。以前は結構業界が叩かれたのでむかしほど印象も悪く無いですし、実際に社会の監視もキツイので親切だしクリーンそのもの。ありきたりですが返せるか考えて活用すればいいんだと思います。あとはしっかり仕事して返済していけばいい話です。
    即日キャッシングは大変便利なものです。様々なキャッシング金融業者が、キャッシングサービスを利用しやすく思考を凝らしています。申込みから入金までを短くしたり、申込み当日に入金をしたり、キャッシング会社の人と直接対面することなく申込みができたり、無利息期間を設けたり。無利息の手軽さを前面に打ち出して、より利用しやすいキャッシングにしているのです。最近はレディスローンという女性のみを対象としたキャッシングサービスもあります。専業主婦やアルバイトの女性でもキャッシングができ、窓口応対には全て女性スタッフが対応します。女性の立場から考えたなら、直接相手をしてくれる相手が同性の方が相談もしやすく、気が楽になるでしょう。もちろん、女性専用のキャッシングローンでも、スマートフォンを利用して申し込みをすることも可能です。少しでも返済がしやすいよう、コンビニのATMから月々の返済が可能なキャッシングサービスもあります。コンビニで支払いができれば、億劫になりがちな支払いでも、買い物のついでに支払いが可能です。いろんなキャッシング会社を調べていきますと、即日キャッシングの会社を選ぶことはキャッシングの利便性を追求することといえます。主婦層や学生向けのキャッシングサービスを提供したり、無利息期間というサービスが付加されているものもあります。どうせ借りるならば、どのキャッシング会社のサービスが一番使いやすいかを見極めてからにしたいものです。

  4. 健康に良いと最近話題な黒にんにく。よくあるにんにくは口臭が気になるから避けているけど、黒にんにくなら大丈夫という方も多数見かけます。

    そんな黒にんにくのベイシックなことから本質的なことまで、精巧に載っているのが私のサイトです。

    飲む人の体に「合う・合わない」ということがあると思いますが、まずは、黒にんにくの効果や効能はどれほどのことがあるのか…要点だけを知っておくだけでも、これからのためになるのではないでしょうか。

  5. What a wonderful way to share your Mongolian adventure! I felt like I was there again. There is a lot of energy in your writing. Too bad we were about a year apart in our visits. Such a beautiful place, filled with surprises for all the senses. Your donating to the projects is such a wonderful gesture.

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