ULAN BATOR, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia officially launched its "Year of Protecting the Gobi Bear" Wednesday with a conference to discuss ways to protect the endangered "national treasure", as only 22 of them remains in the country.
At the event organized by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development, specialists and scholars said they hope relevant government agencies could take actions to protect the bears.
Only 22 gobi bears remain in Mongolia, 14 males and eight females, according to government officials and experts. The country set up a gobi bear breeding center in 2010.
Experts told the conference the decrease in gobi bear numbers was related to their worsening natural environment. In addition, the bear's fertility cycle was long. It usually gives birth to one bear every two years and the cubs' survival rate is very low.
They suggested expanding the ecological protection zone for gobi bears.
It was necessary to immediately set up a gobi bear protection working group, and invite foreign experts to share and jointly deliberate on rare wild animals' breeding experience. At the same time, Mongolia should establish a gobi bear defense fund, open a website dedicated to the species, and call on citizens to actively participate in protection work.
Mongolia has prohibited hunting gobi bear since 1953.