LAST SUNDAY (22 May) saw the world observe the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), with the aim of increasing understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

The original date of 29 December was first created by the Second Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in late 1993. In December 2000, the UN General Assembly then adopted 22 May as IDB. The date change was partly due to the difficulty for many countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the December date, given its close proximity to Christmas and the number of holidays that coincide around that time of year.

As you may or may indeed not be aware, I am Book Review Editor for ‘Biodiversity – Journal of Life on Earth‘, the peer-reviewed publication of the Biodiversity Conservancy. which undertakes worldwide programmes contributing to the preservation of species, habitats, the environment and the life support systems on the planet earth. The Journal aims to help disseminate scientific information in this critical field.

When we think of wildlife conservation, we often automatically think of Africa as the primary continent for concern. So, it was interesting that I should receive notice from a new contact in Ulaanbaatar with an overview of news coming out of Mongolia, which has become the frontier terrain in Asia for international wildlife and nature conservation researchers. I, for one, was not aware that 30 per cent of Mongolian territory currently has protected status. Mongolia, in fact, has a rich biodiversity, with 139 species of mammals; 450 species of birds; 22 species of reptiles; six species of amphibians; and 76 fish species, according to research carried out by WWF.

snow leopardThere is also plenty of wildlife conservation news coming out from international NGOs with ongoing projects in Mongolia. For example, the Zoological Society of London has just launched a new survey on traditional household uses of wild animals in Mongolia, so I will bring you more news on that in a few days. And I am delighted to report that the beautiful, but sadly endangered snow leopard, is to get a protected reserve in Mongolia’s Tost Mountains.

I will keep you posted on news and developments as they occur.