From cubs to bears: A WildMongolia initiative to save Mongolian wildlife

WildMongolia organized a charity drive to support Mongolia's wildlife.

In April 2023, two infant bear cubs were found in the wintering spot of a local herder in Bulgan province. The locals notified the park rangers of the Zed-Khantai-Buteel Mountain range protected area. Deeming the cubs, barely a month old, as unlikely to survive in the wild for long on their own, the park rangers decided to feed and care for the cubs over the first long winter months of the cubs’ lives. A year later, in April 2024, the rangers reached out to Tumursukh, their counterpart in Khuvsgul’s Red Taiga protect area, to prepare the cubs for their release in the remote wilderness of the Taiga, far from the urban centers of Bulgan and surrounding areas.  

Tumursukh happily accepted the request, and he has been looking after the cubs since April of this year. The cubs, now healthy and active, each consume up to 9kgs of fruit, meat, eggs and surprisingly, condensed milk, which Tumursukh calls their dessert. The financial cost of securing and transporting the food to the Red Taiga national park each week is considerable and has so far been borne by Tumursukh personally.  

One of WildMongolia’s core values is the protection and care of Mongolia’s wildlife and nature, and thus we felt it was our duty to contribute to this important cause by organizing a charity drive. The goal of the drive is to raise funds needed to feed and care for the cubs until June of this year, when they are to be released into the wilderness of the Taiga.  

“From Cubs to Bears” charity evening was hosted by our kind hosts at Lkham Gallery, with delicious spread provided by Rosewood that showcased the cooking talents and generosity of this premier kitchen team. World Wine provided the evening’s wine. The evening’s entertainment was an electrifying modern dance by DDanceLab. 

In addition to the generous donations by those attending, two kind patrons donated for the rights to name the cubs, who are now named “Pepe” and “Borya” respectively. A painting of the two cubs by the young artist Shijirbaatar, as featured in the event poster, was also auctioned off to a supporter, with proceeds going to the donation fund.  

Our deepest gratitude goes out to the many sponsors and supporters of this charity drive and the donors who gave generously.  

From Cubs to Bears: A WildMongolia Initiative

Event poster for the charity drive

About brown bears 

Brown bears of northern Mongolia play a crucial role in the region’s biodiversity and ecosystem health. Over the years, their numbers have been dwindling due to illegal hunting and human activities. (The last census was in 1986, when the number of brown bears was estimated to be 500) Many times, bears fleeing forest wildfires, common in Siberia and northern Mongolia during the dry seasons of the spring, are shot and killed by local herders who fear for their own safety and that of their herds. Often the adults out scavenging for food are the victims of these clashes, leaving behind orphaned cubs.  

About Tumursukh Jal

In 2022, Tumursukh Jal, the head of the Red Taiga protected area and a park ranger of more than 35 years, took over the care of three orphaned bear cubs. His plan: to raise the cubs until they are strong enough, in his own words, to “swat aside a poacher or two and run”. Much to the chagrin of the local herders who’d feared for the safety of their herds, he released the cubs back into the wild that year, going as deep into the Taiga as possible into what the locals refer to as the “Valley of the bears”. His efforts to find the delicate balance between the nomadic herders and the wildlife of the Taiga were documented by the French director Hamid Sardar in his award-winning documentary “Mongolia: Valley of the Bears”, released to critical acclaim in 2023.  Read our team member MG’s thoughts on the moving documentary here