2020 News and Review

Season’s Greetings!                                                                                         

September 2020 was one of two fall seasons that I have been in Montana since 1997.  Coincidentally, the only other September I was in Montana was 2003 as a result of SARS-CoV. All the other autumn seasons in that time period I have been in Mongolia either guiding, pursuing The Taimen Fund’s (TTF) initiatives or collecting scientific data.  As wonderful as it has been to spend more time with my family and revisit the incredible Montana autumn, I miss my time in Mongolia and look forward to getting back there in 2021. 

Throughout 2020 I received frequent updates from my friends and colleagues in Mongolia.  Last spring Mongolia closed its borders with China and Russia and even stranded many citizens outside the country until mid-summer. In addition, there were strict quarantines, domestic travel restrictions and business and school closures.  The results have been impressive. At the time of writing this letter the Covid-19 effect on Mongolia has been 473 cases, 329 recoveries and zero deaths.  A great result for Mongolia!

Fortunately, TTF’s work continued in Mongolia in 2020.  As promised a year ago, resulting from the success and the knowledge gained from our flagship RiverKeeper Program in the Eg River, TTF has been able to follow through with creating the new RiverKeeper Recovery Zones.   This program has been designed to create buffer zones adjacent to established strongholds.  Early in 2020 TTF identified the upper Eg River in Hovsgol Province as the hub for the program.  As usual, Director Pervdorj Shirendev of TCF-Mongolia was the man for the job and established agreements with the Governors of the villages Alag-Erdene, Tunel and Erdenebulgan. Additional certificates for the program were issued by the Department of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Hovsgol province.

Thanks to TTF donors a new project is up and running in Mongolia.  Twelve new patrollers have been hired, trained, equipped and are working with environmental inspectors and regional police authorities within the newly established RiverKeeper Recovery Zone.  Another TTF success to be proud of. 

Years ago I learned that one of the most important tools for conservation in Mongolia is the fly rod.  TTF has spent countless hours working with domestic outfitters and clubs to help promote the sport and is excited by the reports from Mongolia in 2020.  Both The Fly Shop Mongolia and Hovsgol Travel report that they hosted many domestic fly fishing groups, first timers included, at their respective lodges when Covid-19 openings allowed it. Great work and congratulations to the Mongolia based outfitters for growing the sport and advocating for the protection of Mongolia’s precious watersheds.

After the long strange year of 2020 TTF looks forward to continuing our efforts in 2021.  We hope to reinvigorate the work established by Chris Pavlovich and her Watershed Warrior educational curriculum in schools throughout Hovsgol Province, conclude our genetics data gathering in the Shishged River and continue to strengthen both of our RiverKeeper programs in Hovsgol Province.

Thank you one and all for all of your support and please consider a donation towards our important work in Mongolia.  TTF is a registered 501c3 and donations are tax deductible. Use the envelope provided to send a check or go to our website and donate online (www.taimenfund.org/donate). All the best in 2021.

Fish On!

Charlie Conn

Executive Director- The Taimen Fund

10th Year for the RiverKeepers

The Taimen Fund will continue to support anti-poaching patrols along the Eg-Uur this season through our flagship ‘RiverKeepers’ program. Now in it’s 10th year, our RiverKeepers work closely with authorities to fight illegal and non-permitted fishing along 120 kms of this premier taimen habitat. We thank our Mongolian partners at the Taimen Conservation Fund and Hovsgol Travel for their financial and administrative support of the RiverKeepers teams.

 This year, TTF is expanding the RiverKeepers program to include patrols and community outreach along an additional 130 kilometers of the upper Eg river through our RiverKeeper Recovery Zone (RRZ.1) Program – more than doubling existing patrol areas. With significant infrastructure development in Mongolia, access to prime taimen strongholds has never been more convenient. The section of the Eg River from Alag-Erden to the soum of Eg-Uur does not currently host guided taimen fishing and so the front-line defenders of wild taimen aren’t present on a piece of water facing a dramatic increase in fishing activity both legal and illicit. TTF will fill this gap with RiverKeeper-trained teams of new RiverKeepers to curb illegal fishing and educate anglers to the regulations for legal taimen and lenok angling in Mongolia. Support our work via an online secure donation.

 The Taimen Fund is launching the “$10K RiverKeepers Challenge” during FQ2 of 2020 to raise $10,000 in donations dedicated to the continued growth and impact of our new RiverKeepers Recovery Zone program in Hovsgol Province. This new effort will help increase our reach and range across additional taimen habitat. Please consider donating today. TTF will match $.50 to the dollar raised between March and June that is directed to this challenge.

Good friend of The Taimen Fund, Susan Higgins, is co-leading a hands-on course exploring the crossroads of climate change and human health across a changing landscape this summer. Open to all ages and nationalities, the course will be taught in English. Major scholarships available! In partnership with the American Center of Mongolian Studies (ACMS). For more information please visit: https://www.mongoliacenter.org/fellowships/mongolia-field-school-2020/climate-change-public-health/

And, unfortunately, the global spread of the ‘Coronavirus’ has not passed Mongolia by. While there are no reported cases, as recently as the end of February, the government suspended all flights from Japan, China and South Korea – representing the vast majority of transit hubs to the country – and sealed the Chinese border while closing schools and canceling national events such as the recent Lunar New Year.

 Will it affect the 2020 taimen season? We certainly hope not, and expect thousands of visitors both domestic and international will travel to Hovsgul Province during Mongolia’s summer and fall. For those lucky few able to chase wild taimen across this landscape please tread lightly, take pictures and best of luck on the river.

Charlie was recently interviewed by Yellowdog’s Jim Klug for their “Waypoints” podcast. It’s some damn fine audio.

2019 Taimen Fund News

From the banks of the Yellowstone to taimen strongholds throughout Khuvsgul Province, TTF has had a busy year. We were proud to introduce a program created by Mrs. Chris Pavlovich, PhD candidate at Montana State University and teacher at East Side Elementary School in Livingston, Montana, to elementary educators across northern Mongolia.  The Watershed Warriors Program (WW) is an award-winning curriculum that provides hands-on, place-based, real-life applications to science while bestowing stewardship of and access to a student’s landscape and culture. 

Thanks to funding from the Trust for Mutual Understanding and your gracious donations, our inaugural WW Exchange was nothing short of a resounding success. Mrs. Uugnaa Purevdorj (of our partner organization, The Taimen Conservation Fund (TCF)), long-time educator Mrs. Muugi Byambajav, and Mr. Erdene Sainbayar, specialist in the Department of Education in Khuvsgul Province, visited Livingston to interact first hand with the WW curriculum.  In July, Chris, her colleague Mrs. Jessica Hanson and TTF Program Manager John Bailey led a multi-day teacher-training workshop on the headwaters of the Selenge River, hosting 17 educators over three days.

While in Mongolia in September, I had the opportunity to meet with the team and education officials in Moron.  Teachers from July’s workshop are today implementing WW in five school districts throughout Khuvsgul.  We’ve translated the entirety of the curriculum, and established a group Facebook page for students and teachers to share findings and experiences.  While visiting, I joined a 6th grade science class for macro invertebrate sampling.  I was overwhelmed by how rewarding the experience was to be with these eager and inquisitive students.

            Once again, your donations, and a generous grant from the Yellow Dog Conservation and Community Foundation (YDCCF), supported TTF’s flagship RiverKeepers Program.  Our anti-poaching effort, conducted in coordination with local herders and law enforcement throughout the Eg watershed is now a decade old!

As around the world, the spread of non-biodegradable waste has risen dramatically over the last few years in the Eg and in 2019 TTF sponsored our first river cleanup on the watershed.  TTF plans to engage with other conservation organizations and local citizens to organize river cleanups on the Eg River, spring 2020.

Looking forward, 2020 will be another great year for TTF as an organization.  We will conclude our genetics data gathering in the Shishged River with Mongolia-based NGO, Save the Taimen.  In addition, we will work closely in the first quarter of 2020 to identify a watershed or stretch of river that currently has no outfitting or enhanced protection.  It has become apparent that those watersheds that still have natural populations of fish need protection quickly in order to build-up buffer zones for established strongholds. This new program will take what we have learned in the Eg to create the RiverKeeper Recovery Program, much-needed for the continued conservation of wild taimen in Mongolia.         

Season’s Greetings from the TTF team. Please consider a donation towards our important work in Mongolia.  TTF is a registered 501c3 and donations are tax deductible. Use the envelope provided to send a check or take a peek at our website and donate online (www.taimenfund.org). Thank you one and all for all of your support and all the best in 2020.

Kiss a Fish – Be a Taimen’s Valentine This Year

Donate Now

The Taimen Fund has big plans for 2019, including the expansion of our RiverKeepers Program to other Mongolian watersheds and a social media campaign to educate Mongolian anglers and public of national fishing regulations. Our most ambitious program to date – bringing an award-winning, Livingston, Montana developed elementary school watershed health and science curriculum to schools in the Murun area – will launch in 2019.

All of these programs need your support. Please consider donating today.

Meet our Research Partners and Welcome to the Taimen Vault:

The Taimen Fund inhabits the confluence of conservation and education and without each neither alone can save the taimen of Mongolia. We are fortunate to work with a number of area experts and research partners and we’d like to shine a light on their participation.

Please visit the redesigned Taimen Fund website to meet our team of dedicated scientists, educators and conservation specialists at

You’ll also find the start of our Taimen Vault – a repository for what we hope to be the world’s leading research and reporting on taimen on the web. It’s just a start but we’ll be adding to it over the coming months so please check back again.

Slideshow of Peter Fong’s Lake Baikal Headwaters Expedition:

The Taimen Fund supported author and adventurer Peter Fong’s 2018 Lake Baikal Headwaters Expedition and in return his team surveyed communities along the Delger Murun watershed for future TTF conservation work in the area.

The Baikal Expedition, the first of its kind saw the team summit the largest mountain in the region and descend down to the first braid of water forming the Delger Murun. They then proceeded to follow the Delger Murun in its entirety to the Selenge River and all the way into Russia at Lake Baikal.

We’ve uploaded a short video of photos of the journey here:http://taimenfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2018-Baikal-Headwaters-Expedition.m4v