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Long-eared Jerboa: extraordinary desert creature

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Published on Dec 10, 2007

http://www.zsl.org/edge ZSL releases the first known footage of the long-eared jerboa in the wild, an extraordinary mammal found in the deserts of Mongolia and China. The tiny creature looks like a mouse-sized kangaroo with enormous ears.

You can see more video footage of the Jerboa on the EDGE website http://www.zsl.org/edge

This endangered animal was filmed during a recent ZSL expedition to the Mongolian Gobi desert to track down and assess the species.

The long-eared jerboa is a small rodent that can be easily distinguished by its giant ears, which are about one third bigger than its head, and its legs, which are specially adapted for jumping like a kangaroo. Currently, the species is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with habitat disturbance the species' key threat. ZSL were privileged to film individual jerboas in their natural environment and study their behaviour. The species is one of those highlighted by ZSL's EDGE programme, which focuses its efforts on species that are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered.

Dr Jonathan Baillie, ZSL Head of Field Conservation and leader of the expedition, commented, "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. Unfortunately, it is just one of many amazing and unusual animals that are highly threatened but receiving little or no conservation attention''.

ZSL has recently appointed an in-country scientist (known as an EDGE fellow) who is studying the species' distribution, behaviour and ecology. The EDGE fellow is also investigating the threats facing the species and has already identified the emergence of the domestic cat as a newly introduced predator to their range as a significant danger. The results of this research are being used to formulate an Action Plan to effectively conserve the species.

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