Endangered Long-Eared Jerboa Seen in Native Habitat For First Time

January 2, 2008

Long-Eared Jerboa, An Endangered Species from China and MongoliaThe long-eared jerboa, an endangered species native to Mongolian and Chinese deserts, has been captured on film in its native habitat for the first time by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The nocturnal jumping mammal is mouse-sized, jumps like a kangaroo, and has enormous ears out of all proportion to its body size. Dr. Jonathan Baillie, who led the expedition and is the ZSL’s Head of Field Conservation, commenting on the Gobi Desert filming, said: “The footage and images from this expedition really are extraordinary, and incredibly charming. The long-eared jerboa is a bit like the Mickey Mouse of the desert, cute and comic in equal measure. When people see ZSL’s footage of this tiny threatened creature, I am convinced they will want to get involved in its conservation.”

Long-Eared Jerboa at Night

He said he was “ecstatic” to have the footage, which shows that the jerboa spends its days in underground tunnels, surfacing at night to eat insects. In describing them, Baillie commented: “These creatures hop just like a kangaroo; it is amazing to watch. Little hairs on their feet, almost like snow shoes, allow them to jump along the sand.”

The filming was part of the ZSL’s “Edge” program, which studies animals which are both endangered and “evolutionarily distinctive.” Dr. Baille added: “These amazing, remarkable creatures are on the verge of extinction and we know almost nothing about them. . .Everyone thinks the desert is a totally desolate area, void of biodiversity, and often when conservation planning is done, deserts are overlooked. But there are some remarkable species in the desert, so we really need to start paying attention to this environment.”

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Photo credit: Zoological Society of London

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